Juneteenth festival planned for downtown Cortland

Juneteenth festival planned for downtown Cortland

06/03/2024 

The Cortland County Community of Color (C4) network — a collaborative initiative between SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College — will hold Cortland County’s fourth annual Juneteenth Celebration honoring the end of slavery in America on Saturday, June 15.

C4 will host the official recognition of Black American emancipation from noon to 3 p.m. at Courthouse Park on Church Street in downtown Cortland. The event will be catered by MarShell's, based in Elmira, N.Y.

Juneteenth, the day of freedom for once-enslaved African Americans, is celebrated on the 19th of June instead of Sept. 22, the calendar day when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The reason is because June 19, 1865 — almost two years later — was the day the Union Army marched into Galveston, Texas, and enforced  Lincoln’s emancipation in Texas, the last Confederate holdout allowing slavery. Juneteenth became a national holiday in 2021.

“On June 19, we reflect on and celebrate the freedom and independence of African Americans in the United States and around the world,” said Lorraine Lopez-Janove, SUNY Cortland’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Juneteenth_2024_main_poster_WEB.gif
Celebrate Juneteenth in Cortland on June 15.

C4 welcomes the opportunity to bring awareness of Juneteenth to the Cortland community, explain why it is celebrated and have lots of fun in the process.

“Seeing the support of this day from other community members shows Black Americans that they no longer need to struggle or fight for equity alone,” Lopez-Janove said.

The event is free and the public is welcome. The Juneteenth Celebration will feature music, speeches, a dunk tank for charity, lawn games, vendors and giveaways.

The presidents of both SUNY Cortland and TC3 — Erik J. Bitterbaum and Amy Kremenek, respectively — will welcome participants, along with Cortland Mayor Scott Steve, Senator Lea Webb of the New York State Senate’s 52nd District, and New York State Assembly member Anna R. Kelles.

Alicia Govens will sing at the event. The assistant fiscal director for the Luzerne and Wyoming Counties Mental Health and Developmental Services Program in Pennsylvania, in her younger days she began her lifelong commitment to service as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Apryl Beatty, founder of Cortland County Black Lives Matter and Cortland Community Matters, a nonprofit organization that provides recreational opportunities for local children, will speak on behalf of the Cortland community.

Regina Grantham, associate professor emeritus of SUNY Cortland’s Communication Disorders and Sciences Department, will deliver the keynote address.

Grantham, a winner of a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, was an innovative leader in speech-language pathology for more than 50 years at the local, regional, state and national levels.

The American Speech Language and Hearing Association honored Grantham with the title of fellow, which is among the profession’s highest awards. A passionate advocate and voice for antiracism, equity and social justice, she will retire as board secretary of the New York State Speech Language Hearing Association at the end of this year, having served for four years.

Grantham-A.jpg
Regina Grantham

Grantham led her department’s development of Cortland’s nationally accredited graduate program and was honored by her colleagues and students with the creation of a scholarship in perpetuity in her name. As a keynote speaker at 2023 Commencement ceremonies, she received a standing ovation for her message, “Every moment is a Cause for Celebration.”

Her dedicated community service earned her Zonta’s 2014 Women of the Year Award. Grantham currently chairs the board of the TC3 Foundation. She is recently retired from Cortland’s YWCA board.

The dunk tank was added to Juneteenth to mix fun with philanthropy.

“This year, we are asking those who want to toss at the dunk tank to provide one single canned good to toss at participants,” Lopez-Janove said. “Those will be donated to Loaves and Fishes.”

Volunteers to dunk for a good cause so far include Beatty; Jena Curtis, a SUNY Cortland professor of health; Jennifer Reminick, manager of communications and marketing for Cortland Chamber of Commerce; and Seth Thompson, TC3 vice president of student affairs and senior diversity officer; and Amanda Wasson, assistant chief of the University Police Department.

Vendors for the event will include the League of Women Voters of Cortland County, the SUNY Cortland Anti Racism Taskforce, the New York State Senate, Meraki Skin Co., New York State Police, Grace and Holy Spirit Church, Cortland LGBTQ Center, SPLAT! Sumthin’, Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York, Cortland County Immunization Ambassador Program, Family Planning of South Central New York, Golden Gift Reflexology and Therapeutic Massage LLC, Cortland County Health Department/ Youth Bureau, and YWCA Cortland, Shea Butter Sales, Cortland County Health Department-Childhood Lead Poisoning Preventing Program, and Mannion for New York.

Lopez-Janove said C4 offers special thanks to the City of Cortland, Cortland Police Department, New York State Police, and Cortland Fire Department for their support.

This year’s event has received community support from Crown City Cinema, Greek Peak, Cortland Repertory Theater, Asempe Kitchen and Wegman's.

Besides Lopez-Janove and Grantham, the C4 Committee includes Katrina Hodge, assistant director of multicultural life and diversity at SUNY Cortland; Seth Thompson, interim vice president of student affairs and senior diversity officer at TC3; Kharmen Wingard M ’10, senior EOP counselor at SUNY Cortland; Charlotte Wade, assistant diversity officer at SUNY Cortland; and SUNY Cortland graduate Tim Bennett ’07, M ’23, owner of the Cortland Voice.


More News

Cortland honored nationally for sustainable food service

Cortland honored nationally for sustainable food service

University’s Weigh the Waste Earth Day event captured a bronze award among its collegiate peers.


Alum earns full scholarship to SUNY Upstate Medical University

Alum earns full scholarship to SUNY Upstate Medical University

Alex Guerrero ’22, a former biology major, earned the first-ever Upstate Say Yes Scholarship.


SUNY Cortland honored for transfer student support

SUNY Cortland honored for transfer student support

The campus for a seventh year made Phi Theta Kappa's national Transfer Honor Roll.


SUNY Cortland musical wins big at NYC theater festival

SUNY Cortland musical wins big at NYC theater festival

Student beats professionals to take best award for best female musical lead.


TEDx SUNY Cortland 2024 videos available

TEDx SUNY Cortland 2024 videos available

Speakers at the university’s second annual TEDx event shared their ideas about “Reclamation.”


Cortland alumni get second chance for study abroad

Cortland alumni get second chance for study abroad

Health Professor Jena Nichols Curtis will lead a 10-day excursion to southern India for Red Dragon alumni.


Faculty, staff welcome at Alumni Reunion 2024

Faculty, staff welcome at Alumni Reunion 2024

The presence of beloved former teachers and mentors would transform the alumni reunion experience.


Bitterbaum named ‘Trailblazer in Higher Education’

Bitterbaum named ‘Trailblazer in Higher Education’

City & State New York recognized SUNY Cortland’s president among 100 statewide leaders in higher education.


Red Dragon chases MMA dreams overseas

Red Dragon chases MMA dreams overseas

MMA experience and teaching have come together for junior Michael Pichardo.


Alexandru Balas wins Fulbright Award

Alexandru Balas wins Fulbright Award

The international studies professor will focus on Romania’s unique contributions, history.