Dear Tulane Community:
On Monday, Tulane will observe National Emancipation Day, which was declared a federal holiday last year in recognition of its central role in our nation’s history and as a cause of celebration for people everywhere.
Juneteenth, as it is popularly called, commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that slavery had ended due to the Union victory in the Civil War. It is believed that these individuals were the last in the country to hear the words of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been signed two years earlier. Since that time, Juneteenth has been celebrated in numerous ways within Black communities throughout the country.
My hope is that you spend Juneteenth with family, friends, colleagues and community members, remembering its significance in our nation’s history, the evil it banished and the new opportunity it opened for African Americans, who had played such vital roles in the origins of our country and would go on to lead at the highest levels of government and society. This holiday should also be a time to remember how much more work must yet be done and how much more progress must be made to build a truly equitable, diverse and inclusive campus community and country.
In honor of Juneteenth, Tulane’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is offering virtual training from June 19 to July 1 on the skills needed to interrupt and dismantle racism. Tulanians who would like to participate in this training should complete this form. There are also many opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth throughout the New Orleans area, and you can view a Juneteenth-related series of films and videos curated by Tulane University Libraries.
As we commemorate this important day in our nation’s history, we are reminded that freedom is fragile. We must constantly do the work to ensure that the story of Juneteenth – what we are celebrating, and why – is never forgotten. As Coretta Scott King wrote, “Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”