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Racial Justice and Advocacy

Overview of Juneteenth

Dear NU Community,

In the United States, African Americans (descendants of enslaved Black people) recognize and celebrate the end of slavery on June 19, or Juneteenth.

It’s wonderful to hear that this day, long of importance to African Americans, is now a federal holiday. All Americans can celebrate the end of a system that denied freedom and basic human rights to so many.

On this day in 1865, the last group of enslaved Black Americans in Texas learned about the Emancipation Proclamation that President Lincoln had signed in 1863 as part of the strategy to win the Civil War, and about the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which legally ended slavery. 

Read much more about the significance of this historic day on the NU blog.

The Juneteenth celebration has evolved since its beginnings.

In 1865, newly freed people finally had a chance to reunite with family members separated by slavery. Imagine searching for a loved one, and all you had to go on was the memory of who your relative was sold to or the last place they were traded. Imagine reuniting with a child who was taken away from you as a punishment. This historic day brought with it the promise of family unity without the threat of further separation; a promise that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about in August 1963.   

Over the last 156 years, Juneteenth celebrations have included family gatherings, reunions, and barbeques. This year, there are festivals in metropolitan areas, cook-outs and barbeques, and virtual music and religious events planned across 47 states.  

Juneteenth offers us a time to reflect on the challenge of resisting oppression, like when enslaved men, women, and children fled from enslavers to places like Fort Monroe, Virginia for their own liberation. It is a time to remember Black Americans who enlisted in the United States Colored Troops to fight for this country. It is a time to consider the problems we see around us now, like gun violence, securing our right to vote, policing, wealth and health disparities, and access to high-quality education.  

As difficult as this country’s history is, we must be mindful to learn the lessons of the past, strive for a better today, continue the fight for equality, and hope for a greater future. Let’s celebrate this day and envision the next chapter of our American story.  

Marie Bakari DBA, MSA, MBA
Associate Director of Faculty Development & Support in School of Business 
Co-Chair, University Diversity Committee

Annabelle Goodwin, PhD, LMFT
Director of Equity and Inclusion / Faculty, SSBS
Co-Chair, University Diversity Committee

A note of thanks to Mr. Harvey Bakari and Mr. Benjamin Goodwin for their assistance with historical facts and perspectives. 

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