SALISBURY, N.C. – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College observed Juneteenth with a special event Monday at the Dr. Carol S. Spalding Advanced Technology Center in Kannapolis. Employees brought lawn chairs to enjoy a time of celebration, education and remembrance, which featured music, speeches, food and fellowship.

Juneteenth celebrates the Union troops’ arrival in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, where they began enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln issued on January 1, 1862. Texas was the last Confederate state to free enslaved people of color. Juneteenth is now recognized as a federal holiday.

The event opened with remarks from Rowan-Cabarrus President Dr. Carol S. Spalding, followed by a performance by vocalist Kayla McClendon.

“Today is a time for celebration, reflection, self-assessment, and commitment to freedom and equality,” Spalding said. “As a college, we are dedicated to education, achievement, inclusion, and equity for all. Today, may we remind ourselves of the value of educating ourselves about the past so that we can create lasting change for the future.”

Executive Director of Transfer and University Partnerships Jenn Gardner Selby talked about the College’s “Here’s My Story” project, which was recently featured as part of the PBS series “Visibly Speaking.” The project was made possible by a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and features three audio-enabled, sculptured benches in Rowan County that share local residents’ stories in their own voices. The narratives highlight how diversity makes communities stronger and more resilient.

Employees also enjoyed a presentation by former Salisbury Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, information from Executive Director of Human Resources Barbra Cooper and a concert by African drumming ensemble Drums 4 Life.

“We hope to make this an annual event at Rowan-Cabarrus,” said Chief Officer of Human Resources Nekita Eubanks. “By celebrating Juneteenth, we celebrate the strength of the American spirit and the hope that we can continue to work together for an equitable and inclusive society.”