You are here: American University President Announcements June 18, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

As the nation and our community continue the critical work to address ongoing and systemic racism, Juneteenth is an important moment of reflection in the journey. In previous years, we have explored the significance of Juneteenth through scholarship and discussion, and that will always be a core element of our commemoration. With Congress and President Biden making Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday, I want to share how we will honor the day this year and going forward.

Beginning next year, the Juneteenth holiday will be added to the academic calendar and the university will be closed each year on June 19th (or on the observed day in future years when it falls on a weekend). We look forward to marking this day annually with our community through events, learning opportunities, and reflections.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation. But it represents so much more, from remembering the millions of Black people and people of African descent who suffered through centuries of slavery and the atrocities of segregation to championing the heroic struggle for civil rights and today’s ongoing mission for justice and equity.

For previous years’ Juneteenth activities, our community developed helpful resources on the history, meaning, and impact of Juneteenth, ranging from a 2020 discussion with Sybil Roberts Williams, CAS performing arts professor and director of African American and African diaspora studies, to Bender Library’s Subject Guide on the topic. I hope you can explore these insights from our AU experts and community members.

We know that AU cannot be excellent without being truly inclusive. Taking specific steps such as recognizing the Juneteenth holiday through our calendar and dedicated programming improves our entire community and reflects our values. Together, we will carry Juneteenth’s message of remembrance and hope today and every day in pursuit of our goals and in support of our community.