LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas at Little Rock hosted their inaugural Juneteenth Celebration Monday.

Students, employees, alumni and friends gathered to celebrate African American history and culture with a Juneteenth historical reenactment. There was also a Black-owned food truck festival and the release of a cookbook.

Celebrations began with the Taste of Juneteenth food truck festival, which featured options from Goldfingers Woodfired Pizza, Spud Love, Jefferson Mobile Grilling and Cheesecake On Point.

As part of the celebration, S. Juain Young and Artists United performed a 20-minute Juneteenth reenactment in which enslaved Africans learn of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“UA Little Rock is proud to hold our first annual celebration of Juneteenth,” Chancellor Christina Drale said. “With our diverse campus community, the celebration of this important holiday highlights our commitment to creating a culture of inclusion and belonging while remembering this important moment in our nation’s history.”

June 19 is annually celebrated as Juneteenth, the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery in the country. The holiday originates from June 19, 1865, the day the last slaves in the country were freed in Galveston, Texas, at the end of the Civil War.

Dr. Melvin Beavers, Chancellor’s DEI Fellow and director of first-year writing, explained that the event provides a learning opportunity for Black culture.

“I am so happy we are celebrating Juneteenth,” Beavers said. “It gives us the opportunity to educate and reflect on the nation’s history. Additionally, it gives all a chance to come together to discuss our shared goals for racial justice at our institution and within our communities.”

For more information on UA Little Rock’s Juneteenth Celebration Cookbook, which contains family recipes from students, employees and alumni, check it out for free online.