news-category: Juneteenth

Annual Observance of Juneteenth Focuses on Achievements of African Americans

a banner with the word juneteenth in green, yellow and red

Freedoms Produce Scholars Like Gardner-Webb Associate Professor Dr. Kortni Alston

“The observance of Juneteenth is about the journey and achievement of African Americans—from a horrific period of sanctioned enslavement to the pinnacle of human endeavors. It is a story of pride, resilience and determination that will always be of historical and spiritual importance—as it serves us well to understand that together, we can overcome all obstacles in our path.” —

On June 19, 1865—over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863—Gen. Gordon Granger’s Union regiment marched into Texas to proclaim the joyous news that the enslaved were free. Since then, this date, Juneteenth, has been celebrated as the ending of slavery in the United States and the freedom of African Americans to pursue education and achievement.

Those early achievers in the African American community led the way for scholars like Dr. Kortni Alston, chair and associate professor in the Gardner-Webb University Department of Communication, Art and Design. In June and July, Alston will participate in three professional opportunities to share her expertise and learn from others in the field of journalism.

Dr. Kortni Alston

The first event is Science Writers Roundtable: Self-Care Through Tough Transitions, a Zoom webinar hosted by the “The National Association of Science Writers.” It will be held on June 15 at 1 p.m. Registration is free and available here.

Alston will be joined by Stephanie Lee, a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Jenni Gritters, a business coach and freelance writer/editor. They will discuss mental health and self-care in this era of mass journalism layoffs. Alston, who is known as a happiness scholar will give practical advice on how to support yourself through tough transitions. Lee and Gritters will share how they faced layoffs and emerged successfully on the other side as staff writers in new positions or as fledgling freelancers.

On June 24, Alston has been invited to speak about former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, who is an advocate for mental health, during Carter Center Weekend in Atlanta. Alston serves on the advisory board of the Carter Center, which was founded in partnership with Emory University to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.

From July 16-20, Alston has been invited to attend the Scripps Howard Leadership Academy, a highly-selective leadership immersion program for deans, associate deans, chairs, faculty and journalists. Offered to only 16 participants, this event is supported by the Scripps Howard Fund to educate and prepare participants to pursue leadership positions at journalism and mass communications schools. It will be held at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on the Syracuse (N.Y.) University campus.

Additional Juneteenth Resources

The Smithsonian: Juneteenth – Senses of Freedom: Exploring the Tastes, Sounds and Experiences of an African American Celebration.

Junteenth Foundation – A non-profit organized by a group of professionals championing the celebration of Juneteenth.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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