President Murray's Message Regarding Juneteenth, June 18, 2020
MEMORANDUM TO THE MARIST COLLEGE COMMUNITY
FROM: DENNIS J. MURRAY
From time to time, I write to students, faculty, and staff to note holidays that are of particular importance to members of our community. Tomorrow is one such day I believe is important to highlight. Juneteenth is an annual celebration recognizing the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger brought news of the end of the Civil War to Galveston, Texas. In this way, enslaved African Americans there learned of their freedom for the first time, even though President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier. Texas was the last state in the Confederacy to receive news that the war was over and that slavery had been abolished.
Juneteenth is a holiday in 46 states and the District of Columbia, and the African American community often celebrates it with family gatherings, barbecues, parades, festivals, and beauty contests. This year, of course, most such public events are being curtailed because of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t diminish the day’s importance as a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. This day also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on this aspect of our history and how our country can more fully live up to its ideals. I’ll look forward to working with all of you to ensure that Marist is also fulfilling its ideal of creating a community in which everyone feels welcome, valued, and supported.
As you might know, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order yesterday recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for New York State employees. I applaud the Governor’s decision, and Marist is pleased to follow suit. The College will be closed tomorrow in observance of Juneteenth.
Dennis J. Murray