Diversity and Inclusion

Celebrating Juneteenth


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Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

June 19 is Juneteenth Day, a major holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion invites you to take time to reflect on the meaning of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the end of slavery by Major General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth is derived from combining two words, “June” and “nineteenth” and is the most popular celebration of the emancipation from slavery, according to influential cultural professor and writer, Henry Louis Gates. He states: “By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched… we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the blood path America took by delaying it.”  Juneteenth was made a federal holiday through the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act signed by President Joe Biden in 2021 to honor and celebrate freedom from slavery.

Historically, Juneteenth celebrations have included reflection, music, food, especially barbecuing, dressing up, political activism, church services, and sports. Some impactful ways to celebrate are: take advantage of the resources below to learn more, read the Emancipation Proclamation, or visit the Washington, D.C. National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Interestingly, Juneteenth does not start with the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 but rather began two and a half years later in Texas. This delay is explained by several things: distance and how slowly the news traveled in those days, and by the resistance from slaveholders that Major General Granger encountered on the way to Texas. The resistance Granger encountered is a reminder that although we have come a long way from the days of slavery, freedom for African American people has been continually deferred.

As we commemorate the end of slavery, we must not forget that emancipation was followed by ongoing acts of racism and lynchings of blacks, and that inequalities persisted for decades for African Americans who could not vote or attend the same colleges and universities as whites, could not attend the same churches, and could not drink water from the same fountains until the 1960s, to name just a few. 

Juneteenth is an opportunity for all of us at Marist to support African Americans in their ongoing struggle against racism, to stand in solidarity with them, to participate in celebrations, to protest social injustice, and to set time aside to learn about African American history.  This is a time to remember where we have come from as a nation and the hard but important work that remains to become a more inclusive, more just, and more perfect union.

Resources: Learn more about Juneteenth
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth Explained
Freedom Realized Freedom Delayed

Edward P. Antonio, PhD
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Marist College
3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY

Tel: 845-575-3340

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