June 19, 2020
Kim A. Wilcox
June 19, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Today marks one of the oldest celebrations of the abolition of slavery in the United States. 

Juneteenth is widely celebrated in African American communities as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.” It marks the date of June 19, 1865, when the federal orders were read by Union Colonel Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, informing more than 250,000 still enslaved Blacks that they had their freedom. The notice came to slaves in the state of Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on January 1, 1863. 

Each year, members of our community mark Juneteenth with celebratory activities. I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the Black Faculty and Staff Association for their work in developing a three-part series this week on the history, community, and legacy surrounding Juneteenth. Additionally, I’d like to acknowledge the work of the UCR School of Medicine’s Center for Healthy Communities in a townhall on race, access, and public lands.

Protests in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and too many other Black Americans have further illuminated the need for education, listening, and action. I am grateful to the members of our community who are actively working against racism and toward inclusivity. 

Furthermore, I hope everyone will join me in taking time today to reflect on our country, its treatment of Black, brown and Native American peoples, and to consider how we can better support our diverse community.  Acknowledging the significance of Juneteenth is a good place to start thinking about how we lift each other up rather than holding some among us down. 

Due to COVID-19, many Juneteenth celebrations have moved online. In addition to those mentioned above, you can virtually attend local and national events such as Riverside Juneteenth Celebration and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture- The Coming of Freedom Celebrating Juneteenth. For further education and reflection on race and racism, the communications team has also developed a list of media resources based on recommendations from UCR faculty and staff. 

Freedom must become more than a concept. Thank you for doing what you can today and in the weeks and months to come to support a community where inclusivity is valued.