On the Importance of Juneteenth

Editorial StaffJune 16, 20222min

In recognition of Juneteenth, we share a message from Alison P. Williams, vice president for equity and inclusion:

On Saturday, June 18, Middletown will have a Juneteenth celebration in Smith Park. Wesleyan’s Office for Equity & Inclusion is a Gold sponsor of this event. We invite everyone to come out and celebrate with us.

Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.  It marks the date when, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery.  The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, had legally freed slaves in Texas on January 1, 1863, almost 2½ years earlier. Even after the general order, some slave masters withheld the information from their enslaved Black people, holding them captive through at least one more harvest season. Thus, Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.

Juneteenth is a time when we can reflect on the painful mistakes of our nation’s past and work towards racial reconciliation, honoring the day as a time for healing, learning and taking action. Many families honor the day by hosting a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is also a time when we celebrate the significant contributions of African Americans to every aspect of American culture.

Wesleyan’s Office for Equity & Inclusion provides leadership and guidance to address systemic inequities for all members of the Wesleyan community. Our culture of inquiry approach to enhancing the educational living and learning experience is designed to promote a healthy, thriving campus climate and a community of excellence predicated on respect for others.