On Tuesday, June 18, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Black Law Students Association held an event honoring Juneteenth, which recognizes the abolition of slavery, at its Tampa Bay campus.
WMU-Cooley Professor Stevie Swanson began the event with a presentation on the history of Juneteenth and African-American independence. A panel, consisting of four Tampa Bay-area lawyers, discussed strategies to overcome adversity in the workplace and took questions from the audience. Panelists included Corneliss Demps of Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett, PLLC; Monica Harris of Jackson Lewis P.C.; Travis Coy of Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office; and Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy of Jean-Pierre Coy, P.A.
Pictured from left to right are: Ke'Dazia Barber, BLSA parliamentarian; Tempestt Jenkins, BLSA president; WMU-Cooley Professor Stevie Swanson; attorneys Cornelius Demps, Monica Harris, Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, and Travis Coy; and Jenell Gillespie, BLSA treasurer.
Juneteenth celebrates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that effective January 1, 1863, all slaves in the Confederate States of America were to be freed. However, news of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865, did not reach Texas until May 1865. On June 19 in Galveston, Texas, Union Army General Gordon Granger announced the total emancipation of slaves in that state.