June 19, 2022
On June 19, 1865, enslaved Americans were told that slavery had ended—nearly nine decades after our nation’s founding, and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. As those who were formerly enslaved were recognized for the first time as citizens, Black Americans came to commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations across the country, building new lives and a new tradition that we honor today.
It wasn’t until last year though that—in a house built by enslaved people—President Biden signed a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
This holiday not only commemorates the past. It calls us to action.
At The Hope Center, we not only remember the moral stain of slavery, but we recommit ourselves to addressing inequities that a long legacy of systemic racism and inhumanity have wreaked on higher education in America.
Juneteenth is a necessary opportunity for us to grapple with and name the history of state-sanctioned and interpersonal violence that Black individuals have been subjected to in this country. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to recognize, celebrate, and elevate the achievements of Black individuals and all they have and continue to create and overcome despite that pain, trauma, and violence.
We encourage our colleagues—policymakers, educators, and researchers—to ensure that this holiday is not yet another symbolic gesture presented as progress without any accompanying structural change.
This needed structural change is why our center exists.