A Juneteenth Reflection
Written by Tyan Thomas and the USciences Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council
Published on June 17, 2021
Juneteenth, observed annually on June 19, is described by some as the country’s “second independence day” and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which decreed that slaves in the Confederate states were freed. However, more than two years would pass before the news reached African Americans in Texas. When Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. Major General Gordon Grange announced General Order No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
Juneteenth evokes a sense of pride for many Black/African American descendants from Africans who were enslaved in the US because it marks how far they’ve come and serves as a source of renewal in their resolve to continue on the journey to achieve full and complete equality in all aspects of the American experience. Some describe this sense of pride as akin to the sense of pride that people feel on Independence Day.
Juneteenth provides an opportunity for our campus community and our country to learn more about each other, the similarities and differences in our histories, and how our histories have shaped our shared ideals. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council at USciences embraces exploration of the rich and varied cultures of members of our campus community and believes that such exploration continues us on the path of achieving the University’s mission to “deliver excellence in teaching, research, and service through a safe and supportive environment” and the Council’s mission to “cultivate the USciences’ values of respect, diversity,and inclusiveness.”