Above: Visitors at the Knox-Lesesne House during the inaugural Maroon Walk for Juneteenth.
The College of Charleston will host the second annual Maroon Walk for Juneteenth on June 5, 2023. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin 10:30 a.m. and feature a half-mile walk exploring sites of African American history on the College’s campus.
The Maroon Walk for Juneteenth was introduced to the College in 2022 to recognize the federal observation of June 19, 1865, the date when “all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free.” Congress voted to recognize June 19 as a federal holiday in 2021.
“We wanted to acknowledge all of the sacred spaces on campus where people of African descent have contributed to the campus culture – in the past, present and into the future,” says Kameelah Martin, dean of the Graduate School, of the inaugural event. “We had a great turnout of faculty and staff in 2022 and want to encourage community members to participate in 2023.”
“The Maroon Walk is meaningful for several reasons,” says Charissa Owens, director of diversity education and training in the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID). “In the same spirit of civil rights icon Ms. Opal Lee’s walk for Juneteenth, it’s a higher form of lawfulness to counter state legislature status with observing the federal holiday. The walk is designed to be an empowering, culturally affirming and physically active opportunity to recognize the federal observation of Juneteenth at the College of Charleston.”
Starting May 23, 2023, up to 25 campus members can purchase the CofC Pan-African T-shirt at the College of Charleston Bookstore for $10 plus tax. Participants are encouraged to wear Pan-African T-shirts to show Juneteenth pride.
The Maroon Walk for Juneteenth will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and take the following route:
- Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at 125 Bull Street
- Edward Leon Guenveur House and Lauretta Goodall-Guenveur Garden at 57 Coming Street
- Solar Pavilion behind 65 Coming Street near the Pi Kappa Phi Bell Tower
- Rivers Green Memorial behind Addlestone Library
- Knox-Lesesne House at 14 Green Way
- Randolph Hall
- Septima P. Clark Birthplace at 105 Wentworth Street
- Atrium of the Septima Clark Memorial Auditorium at the Thaddeus Street Jr. Education Center at 25 St. Philip Street
Participants may register through this online form. The first two people on record to participate in the celebration will receive a CofC Pan-African T-shirt and two tickets to the following Spoleto Festival USA events:
- The Book of Life at 7 p.m. on June 4 in Festival Hall
- Dada Masilo: The Sacrifice at 6 p.m. on June 6 in the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre
At the end of the walk, there will be a raffle with additional prizes, including two tickets to Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya at 9 p.m. on June 8 in the Cistern Yard. Following the conclusion of the walk, participants are invited to come together in fellowship over a menu of dishes that represent Black culture through food.
Developed by the Whipper Grant Caucus, an affinity group designed to support CofC’s Staff Advisory Committee to the President (SAC) in communicating the experiences and perspectives of Black/African American staff members, the Maroon Walk honors the African American settlements established by fugitive slaves known as maroons. The caucus used the College’s public history project and self-guided tour, Discovering Our Past, to identify sites along the route that best educate participants about the history of the campus.
“It’s a great example of how affinity groups on campus empower employees to participate and shape the way the College recognizes and honors cultural holidays,” says Owens. “Finally, it’s a culturally meaningful and visible manifestation of our core value in diversity, equity and inclusion.”