A message from Marcus Whitehurst on Juneteenth

June 15, 2021

Dear Penn State Community,

This week we will mark a notable and meaningful day: June 19, or Juneteenth, is a holiday that not only acknowledges the end of American slavery, but also celebrates the advancements of the Black community and our continued commitment to diversity, inclusion and racial equality. Juneteenth, while commemorative, also signifies a critical turning point for the United States and serves as both a reminder and an opportunity for greater recognition of and education on issues of race, Black culture and Black history. 

It was on June 19, 1865, two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, that slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free, which inspired what we now observe as Juneteenth. While this annual holiday has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late 1800s, Texas officially recognized the holiday in 1980 and 47 states and the District of Columbia followed suit over the years, including Pennsylvania. 

I hope all Penn Staters will join with our Black faculty, staff and students to observe this day by participating in events and valuing the diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds that surround us. I am appreciative of the ongoing conversations about race and equity that are occurring at our University and elsewhere, as we must continue to drive this dialogue and find solutions to racism and bias that exist globally, nationally and locally. To assist in this endeavor, I encourage everyone to learn more about the importance of Juneteenth in American and global history. Numerous scholarly articles, books, films and more resources are available via the University Libraries. Also available are various University initiatives and additional resources, such as the Office of Educational Equity. Information on other Juneteenth events can be accessed here.

As we celebrate this day of education, togetherness and contemplation, I encourage you to consider the roles that each of us can play in making our community more welcoming and remind ourselves of the work that still must be done if we are to truly celebrate freedom for people of all races. Juneteenth is not just an opportunity today; rather, it is a reminder to fight for inclusivity every day.

Our community, via our connections to one another, has the ability to bring about transformative and meaningful change here and in our broader society. This Juneteenth, I hope we will stand together and envision, embrace and create a future where peace and respect prevail.

Thank you.

Marcus A. Whitehurst

Vice Provost for Educational Equity


Last Updated June 16, 2021