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Celebrating and Reflecting on Juneteenth

Dear Emerson community members:

As we approach the Juneteenth holiday on Monday, commemorating and celebrating the true end of slavery in the United States, we wanted to share some reflections and aspirations with our community.

Juneteenth is a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed for freedom, often with their lives. And while, as a country and as an institution, we have made progress in our understanding of this history and how it impacts our society today, it is clear that we have more work to do.

Our country’s complex path to independence includes the reality of slavery and the knowledge that not every enslaved person was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; it took several more years for freedom to reach everyone in all the states in our union. So, on this holiday, even as we acknowledge that many Black and BIPOC Americans continue to face discrimination that seeks to limit their rights, we would like to celebrate African American and Black members of our community who add brilliance to our campuses every day.

Emerson’s commitment to pursuing racial and social justice is essential to fully live our values and create the necessary academic environment to best educate our future storytellers, thinkers, scholars, and creatives. We know that the members of the Black community face the triple burden of colorism, racism, and anti-blackness, evidenced in the many inequities that exist, from redlining, to mass incarceration, to weathering.

Emerson, as a community, is at its best when we all work together to reflect on this history, learn about the struggles that persist, and actively and consciously work to ensure that no one on our campus experiences oppression.

We hope you take this day to contemplate how we can support each other and celebrate and affirm our Black community.

In celebration,
Jay M. Bernhardt, President
Shaya Gregory Poku, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice

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