Reflections on Juneteenth

June 27, 2023

Reflections on Juneteenth

Dear CSSW Community,

Monday marked the third occasion since Juneteenth became a nationally recognized federal holiday in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates the date (June 19, 1865) that the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after its signing. Honoring this day prompts us toward a necessary moment of reflection on the concept of freedom and the promise it holds. The irony, however, is that as we collectively take this day to reflect, there are municipalities in this nation that are still attempting to make it a crime to educate communities on what this day means.

Our work as a country is not done. It should not stop because of this national recognition, but instead should be used as a catalyst to do more. We continue to be inspired by the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee.  She has been celebrating Juneteenth from a very young age, and led the national effort to make it a federal holiday. It was her belief that honoring this day would support a broader goal of bringing communities together to recognize our shared humanity. In 2016, at age 89, Dr. Lee walked from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C., for this goal, and now at 94 years old, is able to witness what her advocacy produced. We are so inspired and humbled by this incredible woman and her indomitable spirit.

This is a potent reminder of the importance of advocacy, and the importance of incremental strides. And a reminder as well of how much more there is to do. We must never lose sight of the ultimate goal of ensuring that all individuals not only have the freedom to live, but the freedom to thrive.

In community,

Melissa Begg

Dean & Professor

Karma Lowe

Senior Associate Dean for DEI, Enrollment & Community Engagement