University of South Florida


The significance of Juneteenth

Dear University Community and Friends of USF:

I wish to take a moment today to reaffirm the University of South Florida’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. We have no tolerance for racism or discrimination on our campuses and we value the respectful treatment of all members of our community.

June 19 is an important day. Juneteenth is a 155-year-old holiday celebrating the emancipation of African-Americans from slavery in the U.S. It is celebrated on June 19  because on that date in 1865, the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas and proclaimed that that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished.

The soldiers were there to enforce President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had gone into effect more than two years earlier, on January 1, 1863.

In addition to marking a date of major significance in American history, Juneteenth has always been both a day of remembrance and an opportunity for African-Americans to honor their history and celebrate Black culture.

At the University of South Florida we are committed to redoubling our efforts to be a force for positive change and we are reminded of how important a role that is on this day.

As I shared with you recently, I have asked USF Vice President of Institutional Equity, Dr. Haywood Brown, to work together with members of our community to further articulate how the university addresses systemic racism. We are actively engaged in a dialogue with Black student, faculty, staff and alumni leaders. Under Dr. Brown’s leadership, we will develop programs to ensure that our faculty, staff and students become more culturally aware and intelligent about how race impacts attitudes and behaviors.

We will consider innovative avenues to enhance faculty and management diversity in recruitment, development, retention and rewards. 

We will analyze salary equity for faculty and staff to ensure that we work to eliminate any race-and gender-based salary disparities. 

We will ensure that Black-owned businesses participate as vendors to the university by setting goals for diversity spending and creating a code of conduct for employees that encourages more supplier contracts for Black businesses and other diverse supplier categories.

In these challenging times, USF can provide leadership and opportunity, demonstrating an active commitment to creating a civil, humane and compassionate society in which racism is not tolerated.


Steve Currall

Steven C. Currall, Ph.D.
President and Professor
University of South Florida

Return to article listing