Each year on June 19, the Murdoch Community Center has organized its Juneteenth celebration, inviting members of the community to enjoy an afternoon of games, live music, speakers and more to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. However, like many other gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s events have shifted to the virtual realm, with the Southside Community Association, Coconino County African American Advisory Council and Northern Arizona University’s Ethnic Studies Department presenting the 65th annual Juneteenth celebration with the health of the community in mind this Saturday. “African Americans seem to be more adversely at risk [for COVID-19] and we definitely don’t want to put our community at risk,” Deborah Harris, SCA board president, says. “There will be another Juneteenth. This is not permanent; we’ll be able to get back together again.” Discussions will include “Free at Last, Two Years After the Fact” by Dr. Ricardo Guthrie, director and professor in NAU’s ethnic studies department, and Dr. Mark Beeman, NAU sociology and ethnic studies professor. The two scholars will share the history of Juneteenth for those unfamiliar, such as the overarching fact that while the Emancipation Proclamation legally freed slaves when it was signed in 1863, many slaves in Texas were unaware of this until Union soldiers arrived to tell them the news in 1865. Then, community members are encouraged to submit questions regarding the topic “A Space at the Table we Helped Build,” facilitated by Rev. Bernadine Lewis, director of NAU’s Franke College of Business. Join in the conversation Saturday afternoon beginning at 2:10 p.m.  Find Murdoch Community Center on Facebook for the event page, teaser video and live stream.

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