While celebrating Juneteenth, the new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, the Arizona Diamondbacks will also honor Lois Brown, director of ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and Foundation Professor of English, during a pregame ceremony this Saturday, June 19, at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Brown is being recognized as a transformative leader and educator. A statement from the Arizona Diamondbacks reads: “Dr. Brown's work as a leader and teacher is having a significant impact on many in and beyond our state. We honor her as a leader who is committed to creating transformative and collaborative programs, dialogues and initiatives that enable us all to envision and sustain a world that honors dreams, justice and democracy.”
As director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Brown oversees the only entity at ASU and in the state of Arizona that positions race and democracy in direct relation with each other. A public historian and scholar of African American literature and culture, Brown’s presentations on equity, leadership, justice and inclusion complement the center's efforts to advance positive systemic change and justice.
The Diamondbacks’ Juneteenth celebration will also honor the Greater Phoenix Urban League, the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, Base Arizona and Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, which recently celebrated its 99th anniversary. Buddy Strong, a Dave Matthews Band member and former Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church keyboardist, will catch the ceremonial first pitch from Rev. Terry Mackey of Pilgrim Rest.
Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, after President Joe Biden signed a bill to commemorate the date widely recognized as the day the last enslaved people in Texas became free. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people two and a half years earlier in 1863 but it was not until June 19, 1865 that a quarter of a million Black people still held in bondage finally learned they were liberated. Slavery was formally abolished in the United States months later with the passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865.
Juneteenth is the first newly approved federal holiday since the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day almost 40 years ago in 1983.