SAN ANTONIO (June 19, 2019)–––As the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth Freedom Day is considered a special event project on the timeline of an award-winning Alamo Colleges District member college that was originated in 1898 for the daughters of former U.S. slaves.
Beyond that college, beyond that sacred tradition, the project was especially relevant for the general public in 2019 which marked the 40th anniversary of Texas’ 1979 legislation for the Juneteenth Holiday.
All were welcome to join 30 St. Philip’s College students, employees, alumni and employers as spectators and participants promoting education in the college’s 2019 Juneteenth Freedom Day project. The highlight of the SPC project involved the college’s students marching in the local parade that annually celebrates the event—the 40th Official State Holiday Juneteenth Parade—June 15 and starting at Sam Houston High School at 4635 E. Houston St., before ending at Comanche Park #2 at 2600 Rigsby Ave.
The event allowed students to engage in real-time with a mix of community members, families in town for the event, and even local Buffalo Soldiers. While some students rode on floats, most chose to walk in a procession led by a parade grand marshal who is a local hero in the fields of national security and civil rights—fourth generation San Antonian Oliver W. Hill. Hill is retired from serving with Kelly Air Force Base for more than 37 years in Military City USA, including program management of the Department of Defense Dog Center. Giving back in Military City USA and beyond, Hill served twice as leader of the San Antonio Branch NAACP with appointments in 1997 and 2011. As leader of the association’s host city team, Oliver Hill was active in the success of the association’s 109th Annual Convention held for the first time in San Antonio during the summer of 2018. This was after host-leading the November 2017 San Antonio stop of the NAACP Listening Tour of public meetings.
Juneteenth Freedom Day is a widely recognized celebration of the moment 154 years ago (June 19, 1865) when more than 200,000 enslaved persons in Texas found out that they were both free and independent from being considered as someone else’s property. One-hundred-fifty-four years is slightly more than half of San Antonio’s 301-year existence as a city, meaning Juneteenth—and slavery—and freedom—have a bevy of deep roots in one of the nation’s largest states.
The march is the signature element of the college’s engagement with the local organizers of the Juneteenth Parade. In 2019, the college welcomed all to join the oldest college in the Alamo Colleges District system—the first system to earn the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The event was another part of ongoing SPC efforts to express “Our Award Win is Your Award Win” with the community it serves. With the official Juneteenth holiday falling on June 19, the students have been attending classes this week and reflecting on how they observed an unforgettable civic event with the rest of the city a few days early.
CAPTION: St. Philip’s College participants in the June 15 2019 SPC Juneteenth Project included students, employees, alumni, employers and members of the community marking the 40th anniversary of Texas’ 1979 legislation for the Juneteenth Holiday. (Images courtesy SPC)
About St. Philip’s College: Founded in 1898, St. Philip’s College is among the oldest community colleges in the United States, and Saint Artemisia Bowden led the nondenominational public college for 52 years (1902–1954). Today, St. Philip’s College, a multi-campus member of the Alamo Colleges District, is both is a Historically Black Colleges and Universities member institution and a Hispanic Serving Institution with global business units, serving a semester enrollment of about 13,000 credit students. Find SPC online at alamo.edu/spc.
Source/Photo credit: St. Philip’s College