Alumna Nakía Russ is using the social ties and educational experience she gained at UNM to help lead the celebration of Juneteenth alongside the City of Albuquerque (CABQ).
The virtual celebration will include live music, spoken word and dance to celebrate the end of formal slavery in America. The New Mexico Statewide Virtual Juneteenth Celebration is happening June 20, 2020 and will draw community via-web-based streaming to hear from local talent that will inspire and empower the Black Community and the entire community.
“If it’s fighting for human rights, I’m 100 percent about it,” Russ said.
Russ graduated from The University of New Mexico in 2018 with a double major in Africana Studies and Psychology and a minor in Sociology. During her time at UNM, she was a member of the Black Student Union and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority; and contributed heavily to connecting UNM students to the local Black Lives Matter movement. She was also honored with the African American Student Services Award in 2018 by African American Student Services for her contributions to the campus and Albuquerque communities.
After posting on social media recently asking what her community was doing to recognize Juneteenth 2020, she joined the CABQ effort to spearhead a virtual celebration. She says it was a natural transition from her involvement at UNM, to working with the city.
“A lot of people don’t know what Juneteenth is or what it represents,” she explained. “It’s being able to express Black culture freely and unapologetically, while also facilitating a gathering of the community to enjoy the celebration of that culture.”
Russ credits her professors and mentors in the Africana Studies program at UNM with empowering her to speak up and combat racial injustices. Her passion, dedication and courage are inspirational, as is her advice to others looking to make an impact in their communities.
“It’s a scary thing, going up against racial injustices – especially now. But keep the goal in mind: there are problems and they need to be fixed. Be genuine, be pure, act with intention, and stay true to yourself and the movement.”