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Reflecting on Juneteenth: A Message from the President

Dear members of the Emerson community,

On Monday, our community and our country will take pause to observe Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Many in our community have long celebrated the history and meaning of June 19, but its observance as a federal holiday is relatively new. On this occasion, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some thoughts.

While Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation from slavery, it also reminds us that words alone – or the naming of a holiday – will not bring about equal justice in our country. Though our nation has made progress, this work remains unfinished. Juneteenth also provides each of us an opportunity to consider what we can do individually to address the injustices that remain in our communities and within our country. I plan to take some time to reflect on this, and I hope you will join me.

James Baldwin reminds us, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Indeed, Emerson is committed, unequivocally, to taking action to change institutional practices and beliefs that oppress Black and Brown people. I look forward to working closely with Shaya Gregory Poku, our new Vice President for Equity & Social Justice who begins on August 1, who will help us lead and frame this critical work. 

I am inspired by the possibilities of what the Emerson community is capable of and what we can achieve together. 

I wish you a happy, hopeful, and reflective Juneteenth. 


William P. Gilligan,
Interim President 

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