Juneteenth, a combination of the words "June" and "Nineteenth," is the oldest known American holiday that celebrates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed more than two years prior to this date, in Texas there were still hundreds of thousands of people being held in slavery. It wasn't until Union troops and Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 and shared the news that the Civil War had ended and announced that all slaves were officially free.
Today is a day for rejoicing and connecting with loved ones, but it is also a time for self-reflection, education and looking towards the future of Black lives in America. Today, and every day, is a call for an end to racial injustice and systemic racism, and for all of us to stand against them wherever and whenever they occur.
At Wells, the Office of Student Equity and Inclusion Initiatives is hosting a brave space for students to gather and connect (virtually), called "Healing in Action." And every Tuesday in June, students can attend conversations facilitated by Kerr Mesner and Shilo McGiff, called "Breaking the Silence: A Journey toward Anti-Racist Allyship." Faculty and staff have also formed a discussion group, "Wells Anti-Racist Pedagogy," and will meet weekly to hold conversation about assigned readings.
We hope that each of you will celebrate this day for the history and fight for what it represents! And, that you use this moment to channel action for the foreseeable future by listening, voting, signing petitions, donating, having conversations with others and continuing your own education.