Dear USF faculty and staff,
Yesterday, the U.S. government established June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, making it a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
I’m pleased to announce plans for the USF community to observe this important day at a date this autumn, which will allow more members of our university community to take time to celebrate in a meaningful and appropriate way. More details will be shared in the coming weeks. In 2022, USF will observe Juneteenth on the day that is designated as a federal holiday.
Communities across the nation have long-celebrated Juneteenth as a holiday to commemorate the day in 1865 when 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas were declared free by the U.S. Army in the final days of the Civil War. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, liberating “all persons held as slaves.” We celebrate June 19th as Freedom Day, recognizing the resilience and achievements of African Americans, and a day to reaffirm our commitments to racial equity and social justice.
As we pause as a broader community to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend, I encourage us to contemplate the meaning and importance of this holiday in the context of our development as a nation and as part of our vital conversations – and commitment to action – to address racism and systemic inequities today. This includes recognizing the leadership and engagement among USF Black faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners happening across our campuses and beyond that are part of the rich legacy of Juneteenth.