I think that many of us exhibited both surprise and a sense of relief to the news of the declaration of Juneteenth as a new federal holiday. Although sporadically celebrated prior to this, the recognition and validation of this sentiment at the national level is overdue. I have asked our DEI leadership on behalf of the Committee to provide some words of recognition and resonance that will help to inspire all of us in AUGS.
From Gina Northington and Elisa Trowbridge:
“On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Biden signed into law a measure that establishes Juneteenth as a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States after years of debate in Congress. On behalf of the AUGS leadership and the newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee we would like to recognize the importance of this historical moment and our commitment to its annual commemoration.
What is Juneteenth?
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, however, it would take Union soldiers until 1865 to reach Texas and announce that the state's 250,000 enslaved people were free. On June 19, 1865, General Granger led a force of Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas bearing a message of freedom for the slaves there. Upon his arrival, he read out General Order Number 3, informing the residents that slavery would no longer be tolerated1. Juneteenth derives its name from combining "June" and "nineteenth”.
The importance of this newly signed law is that we acknowledge that slavery was, indeed, a significant part of American history. We should use this opportunity to reflect on the limits of our own understanding and seek greater knowledge about the history of slavery in America. We can then use our expanded understanding to help bridge the deep divisions that currently exist in our country. Acknowledging this important day is not just critical for the descendants of American slaves but for us all. On this day, June 19, 2021, pledge to start having important conversations with your colleagues and neighbors about racial justice, democracy and greater equity and inclusiveness in this great nation.”
I hope that these words have inspired you as they have me. Have a great rest of the weekend.
Best regards and keep well,