As discussions about racial justice, police violence and systemic racism have become a national phenomenon, Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday. June 19th, 1866 marked the end of the legal enslavement of Black people in the United States and has become a celebration of Black resistance and resilience elevating the dialogue, particularly in higher education, about the stolen labor, knowledge and skills of Black people and the teaching of an accurate history in schools. A call to move beyond national holiday designations and toward ending police violence, protecting voting rights and the need for reparations has even been recognized by environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, which recently announced its support for Black reparations. These important steps forward have also resulted in a backlash against teaching about the legacy of racism in the United States, with more than a dozen states attempting to pass legislation banning the teaching of critical race theory in an effort to white wash history. Similarly, the attacks on Ethnic Studies programs have increased as the movement to require Ethnic Studies courses in high school and college is growing, particularly in western states. Now more than ever we need to organize ourselves to ensure that the national dialogue, and movement, continues.
The acknowledgement of Juneteenth by an institution of higher education is only productive if it sparks conversations and actions that lead to institutional change toward becoming more inclusive and responsive to Black students, staff and faculty. To begin that dialogue we all should take this opportunity to learn more about the history of enslavement in this country and the effects of white supremacy embedded in educational spaces, including our own. Below are a few resources that list Juneteenth virtual events, articles and videos to engage in the process of building our awareness and developing our critical consciousness.
Anita Fernández, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity Officer
Critical Resistance on Juneteenth and Abolishing Prisons
Historian Ann Gordon Reed on the history of Juneteenth:
The National Museum of African American History and Culture - Juneteenth virtual events:
A history of Juneteenth from NextGen:
This Juneteenth Black Arts Festival in LA virtual events:
Newly uncovered interview with James Baldwin