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Emerson to Commemorate Juneteenth

This is an edited version of an email sent to staff

Dear Emerson Staff:

We are very pleased to announce that starting in June 2021; Emerson College will commemorate Juneteenth as an official Emerson staff holiday. Juneteenth is on a Saturday this year, and Emerson will commemorate this day on Friday, June 18, 2021. In the past year, a number of cities and states, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have marked Juneteenth as an official holiday. For many in the Emerson Community, this day serves as an important reminder of the ongoing need to advance racial justice and freedom in the United States.

While Juneteenth is not recognized as a federal holiday, we, at Emerson College, believe Juneteenth represents an important moment in the nation’s history and should be an annual point of reflection and recommitment to racial equity.

Background on Juneteenth

In January of 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which legally freed those who were enslaved in the United States. Yet, slavery continued in Texas for two years until June 19, 1865 when the Union Army arrived in Galveston and an order was issued, finally freeing those who were enslaved in Texas. Juneteenth, a mix between June and nineteenth, is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth has been celebrated as a day of freedom in many African American and Black communities ever since. 

Below are a few suggested ways to commemorate Juneteenth:

Learn about Juneteenth

Learn about Racial and Social Justice

  •  New York Times 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones – the 1619 Project was a New York Times initiative that began in August of 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.
  • 13th– Released in 2016 on Netflix this documentary by director Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequity in the United States. It is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865.
  • Social Justice Center Radical Guide for Social Justice – a comprehensive resource guide that provides recommended books, articles,  videos, podcasts, etc.

Act to Advance Racial Justice

Sylvia Spears; VP for Equity and Social Justice

Shari Stier: Chief Human Resource Office and Sr. AVP

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