June 19, 2021

Dear Lawrence Tech Community,

The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is honored to have the opportunity to share information regarding the importance of Juneteenth (June 19th) and why it is important to our Black students, faculty and staff, and greater community.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, and has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s. The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.

Juneteenth origins:

In order to understand our current condition as a nation, we must gain historical perspective of events that have shaped our nation. On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation became an active executive order in the United States of America.

It stated that:

“All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free …” – Abraham Lincoln

The Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 -  two and a half years later -  to announce that all African American slaves in the state were free in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This made Texas the last state in the Confederacy to receive word that the Civil War was over and that slavery had been abolished. It also was the last state where the federal Army established its authority.

Why you need to care:

Now, as national attention remains focused on acts of police violence and various racial profiling incidents, it is clear that while progress has been made in Black America’s 150 years out of bondage, considerable barriers continue to impede that progress. Those barriers will remain until America truly begins to grapple with its history.

This year’s celebration may resonate in new ways, given the sweeping changes and widespread protests across the U.S. Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the U.S. has always been delayed for Black people.

Why is Juneteenth important to our Black students, faculty and staff and greater community?

Juneteenth is an opportunity to examine one of our nation’s deepest and most destructive roots - racism. There has, and continues to be, a push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. As such, it is important to keep in mind that some Black Americans view Juneteenth, not the 4th of July, as their independence holiday.

This week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Celebration Day in Michigan. There are many ways to celebrate and learn more about Juneteenth:

For more information about the origins of Juneteenth please watch the video interview with the assistant director of the African American Civil War Museum.

Juneteenth Video

Northwest African American Museum’s #blkfreedom watch party

Juneteenth Freedom Weekend Preview | American Black Journal