Elon University will partner with the African American Cultural Arts and History Center in Burlington to celebrate Juneteenth on June 18. Community members can take part in one of three 75-minute tours of the new center, including a featured exhibit “Juneteenth & Black Alamance.”
June 19, now known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, was designated a federal holiday today by President Joseph Biden. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the end of slavery was announced in Galveston, Texas.
John Robinson-Miller, assistant director of the university’s Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education, said he is excited for community members to not only learn about the history of Juneteenth nationally and globally, but also locally in Alamance.
“As a community we also need to know about the histories that happened, specifically in Elon,” Robinson-Miller said. “This is a way to bridge all of those things together.”
Jane Sellars, an Alamance County native and prominent leader in the African American community, had a vision of creating a space that would educate, preserve and bring the community together. In 2017, she founded the African American Cultural Arts and History Center.
Today the center is led by Shineece Sellars, the daughter of the late Jane Sellars. As the executive director of the center, Sellars has followed in her mother’s footsteps and is taking in every aspect of her role as a leader.
Sellars has always been connected to the people of the organization, and her new position has allowed her to grow closer and learn from those around her on a new level.
“My role was more behind the scenes; my background was more in accounting and finance,” Sellars said. “Ever since my mom died I took over her position of head director and run day to day management for the center.”
Though the role consumes a lot of her time, Sellars said she enjoys learning and interacting with the community.
AACAHC opened the doors to their permanent physical space in Burlington in early April and serves as a cultural site and museum focusing on personal and generational history. The museum preserves genealogy and tells numerous stories about individuals who have created a lasting impact in African American history in Alamance and surrounding counties.
Previously, the initiative didn’t have a physical space and had to utilize community spaces, such as the public library and theaters. Garry Wiley Jr., a founding member of the center and board president, said that they are excited to have the physical space to store their collections.
“This will help us open the door to future programming, such as classes for the genealogy that we so desperately wanted to do,” Wiley said.
Tours will take place at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. on June 18 at the center, located at 2381 Corporation Parkway, NC 27215. Pre-registration for the tours is required.