Members of the Colgate Campus Community,
This week, for the first time, Colgate University will observe the annual holiday of Juneteenth; because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, our observance will take place Friday, June 18.
On June 19, 1865, enslaved people, living and toiling in Texas, learned that they had been freed through the Emancipation Proclamation, issued in Washington, D.C., more than two years prior. This year marks the 155th anniversary of the first Jubilee Day celebrations, held thereafter in Texas to honor the end of their enslavement.
When the holiday was announced at this time last year, we were asked to think of it as an opportunity to reflect, not only on the history of the day itself, but also on what it tells us about the slow pace of change and the ongoing harm of racism in America. Juneteenth is a holiday that speaks both of our national history and of the work that we must do if our nation truly aspires to offer justice for all.
We encouraged our community to educate itself about Juneteenth. We asked our community to use Juneteenth to read about and engage with this University’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. In this way, it is a holiday that reminds us of our own capacity to create change where we are — change that will benefit both current and future generations of students, professors, and staff members.
During the height of the pandemic, these were often, of necessity, solitary acts. As we begin to envision life after the pandemic, it is a good time to think about how we can engage in this kind of learning as a community, together. In that spirit, I start the conversation with a series of suggested readings and viewings, of various lengths, on a variety of relevant themes. I offer them in the hope that they will prime discussion, develop knowledge, and honor those whose suffering and strength made this day both necessary and possible.
- On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard Law School
- “Why Juneteenth Matters”
- “So you want to learn about Juneteenth?” by Derrick Bryson Taylor
- “We are still charged with meeting the challenge that Frederick Douglass issued” by Imani Perry
- “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass, addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 5, 1852, in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, N.Y.
- What Juneteenth Tells Us About the Value of Black Lives by Nicole Ellis, host, writer, and producer for the Washington Post, discusses the impact of Juneteenth.
- The Juneteenth Book Festival Symposium on Black Literature & Literacy, programming from the 2015 Library of Congress symposium.
- Observing Juneteenth: A 2020 collection of PBS programming on Juneteenth.
The Office of the Dean of the College is furthering our ability to come together by offering transportation to the Black Artist Collective’s On the Reel Film Fest + Pop-up Market on Saturday, 5–11 p.m., at the Syracuse Inner Harbor. Details were sent in the weekly bulletin, and I want to acknowledge all those who are making transportation available.
As we take stock of where we are after a deeply challenging year, I hope you can rest and recharge, and also that you will take at least a moment this Juneteenth to reflect on the work ahead. Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts continue to be absolutely necessary if Colgate is to achieve its third-century ambitions; we can be an excellent university community — and, I would argue, better human beings — if we continually push toward these goals.
I thank those of you already doing this work and invite everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to join in the endeavor.
Acting Chief Diversity Officer
Vice President for Communications