Thoughts on the meaning of the historic day and its recent commemoration as a paid holiday.
Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, commemorating Texas General Order No. 3, announced on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, which stated, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
As Yale University President Peter Salovey recently said in a note to the community, “Juneteenth is a day of reflection and rejoicing, as well as a moment to acknowledge the long civil rights movement. The holiday gives us the chance to celebrate the end of slavery; to remember the experiences, labor, and lives of enslaved people; and to recognize the contributions of members of the Black community to this country.”
The Yale community is invited to participate in Juneteenth celebrations on campus and in our local community, learn more about the Yale and Slavery Working Group, and attend Juneteenth New Haven, a four-day series of events organized by various organizations throughout the city and focused on a revival of cultural, personal, and social wellness.
Yale SOM is committed to providing an equitable and safe experience for all our community members. In concert with the school’s mission, we will continue to develop and equip inclusive leaders to tackle the deepest challenges and societal injustices. Learn more about our commitment to racial equity and our Council on Anti-racism and Equity.
The Office of Inclusion and Diversity
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As a New Jersey native, I experienced Juneteenth through smaller church and community celebrations. While the celebrations were not as large as the ones celebrated in cities like Galveston, Texas, and the surrounding areas, it was always moving to see how much we have overcome as Black people in America, and how far the country still has to go. In the wake of the civil rights movements of the last few years, I’ve been more intentional with how I honor the holiday and make it a point to spend the day celebrating Black American culture with the people closest to me. Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, I hope to see the nation recognize the gravity of this commemoration in a very honest way, without commodifying it and ignoring the history behind it. As a new staff member at Yale, I’m happy to see that the school is taking steps toward honoring this part of our nation’s history by adopting Juneteenth as a university holiday starting this year.
—Zanaiya Léon, Assistant Director of Inclusion and Diversity