TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Stillman College’s Black Male Initiative will host its first-ever “Juneteenth Weekend” celebration festival June 17-19 on campus.
Juneteenth National Independence Day was established as a federal holiday in 2021 but has long been celebrated each June 19 as the emancipation of African Americans in the United States. BMI, a student-focused leadership and service organization at Stillman, has created its Juneteenth Weekend to not only celebrate the societal and cultural significance of Juneteenth but to engage younger generations and strengthen the bond between Stillman and the surrounding communities.
“It will be a weekend of fun, and hopefully people will learn about our culture and heritage,” said Arick Evans, Stillman senior and 2023 Mister Stillman. “Ultimately, we’re trying to bring the community to Stillman and make it more accessible to the Westside community.”
Juneteenth Weekend events include:
Friday, June 17 | 3 p.m.
“Juneteenth Dustbowl 5-of-5 B-Ball Classic”
Greek Row and Birthright Alumni Hall
- $100 registration fee (register)
Saturday, June 18 | 2 p.m.
“#Dadication and Black Arts Festival”
Greek Row and Sheppard Lawn
- Fatherhood Grill-Off; Live performances, food, vendors, and art walk showcasing local black artists
- *Grill-off prizes for top three contestants
Sunday, June 19 | Noon and 1 p.m.
“Church on the Quad and BMI Fathers Day Brunch”
Sheppard Lawn/Hay Center Dining Hall
- $12 buffet style brunch following service
Evans said the Juneteenth celebration was originally conceived as a one-day event centered around the Fatherhood Grill-Off; his intention was to “give fathers a chance to enjoy their kids,” but after a deeper discussion with BMI leadership, the event was expanded to include programming for children. For Evans and BMI students and staff organizing the activities, this provided an important exercise that aligns closely with BMIs service mission: influence and educate Black youth.
“This experience has been breath-taking,” Evans said. “It’s an honor to help change lives, and I appreciate the community with trusting me in this role.”
The Juneteenth Weekend is a run-up event to BMI’s Black Family Conference Aug. 26-28 on campus, building on a successful academic year of community service projects. For instance, BMI’s students provided mentoring to students at Stars Academy, an alternative school for students with behavioral issues, this year. Additionally, during the Spring 2022 semester, BMI led a 16-week enrichment program for 20 Black male students in the city and county schools. BMI leaders, along with volunteer mentors from various sectors of business, educated the participants on finances, post-secondary opportunities and practical life skills.
“We’re an HBCU in the heart of this side of town, and we haven’t always been a friend to the community,” said DeMarcus Hopson, executive director for the Williams Institute for Leadership, which oversees BMI. “So, we’ve been intentional in making our resources and students accessible to the community and to provide an opportunity to view Stillman in a different light and know Stillman as a beacon to Tuscaloosa.”