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Embracing Juneteenth: Transforming Lives Through Experiential Learning

Chicago Center students visit the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

At the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture, we firmly believe in the transformative power of experiential learning and the value of engaging directly with communities. As we approach the Juneteenth holiday, we are compelled to recognize its profound significance and the imperative to honor and understand its historical and cultural importance.

Juneteenth marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States, specifically the moment when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. This day serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality, and the resilience of the Black community. By recognizing Juneteenth, we actively acknowledge the continued fight against systemic racism and the importance of amplifying Black voices and experiences.

Founder of Kids Off the Block, Diane Latiker, meets with students to share about her work serving the youth on the south side of Chicago in the Roseland neighborhood.

“By actively listening to the stories, struggles, and triumphs shared by Black individuals and communities, we gain a deeper understanding of the historical context and significance of Juneteenth,” said Executive Director Tyler Hough. “The Chicago Center’s unique instructional approach and practice of critical place-based pedagogy situates the voices of community leaders in our students’ learning. It is through these individual connections that we foster empathy, compassion, and a commitment to social justice.”

The Chicago Center’s commitment to experiential learning extends beyond the classroom walls. We strive to provide our students with opportunities to engage directly with local communities, creating spaces for meaningful dialogue and mutual learning. By connecting with community members and organizations dedicated to preserving and celebrating Black history and culture, we actively contribute to a collective narrative that values diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As we commemorate Juneteenth, let us recommit ourselves to ongoing education and action. Let us use this holiday as an opportunity to challenge our own biases, deepen our knowledge, and actively work towards dismantling systemic racism. We encourage our students, faculty, and staff to participate in local Juneteenth events, engage in thoughtful conversations, and seek out resources that highlight the rich legacy of the Black community.

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