Dear Colgate Community,
On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, the westernmost part of the Union, learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued two and a half years before every last enslaved American was informed. While not technically the date of slavery’s end, Juneteenth (a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”) was adopted as a day to celebrate total emancipation. Recent events have reminded us that racial injustice still persists today and the work for equality is far from done.
Beginning in 2021, June 19 will be a paid holiday to observe a day of reflection. We encourage you to reflect and, more importantly, to act. Educate yourself about Juneteenth’s history and explore books, movies, or podcasts about systemic racism. This small step is just one way the University is acting to support change on our campus and to encourage reflection and education on issues of race and justice. There will be much more to come.
As I shared in a letter to the Maroon-News editors, Colgate will launch The Colgate History Project this year. This critical effort will pull together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and scholars from around the nation to develop a comprehensive historical perspective of race and inclusion at Colgate. Also, Colgate’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan, the work of more than 70 members of the faculty and staff — was published this past November. A status report on this work will be distributed this summer.
The work of creating a more just and equitable campus community must be a continual commitment required of all of us. I look forward to our work together.
Brian W. Casey