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Juneteenth Reflection

June 18, 2020
Re: Juneteenth Reflection
To: All students, faculty and staff
June 18, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
Juneteenth — the 19th day of June — holds great historical significance for the Black community, and indeed for all of the United States. Also known as Freedom Day and Jubilee Day, Juneteenth was first celebrated on June 19, 1866 to commemorate the legal abolition of slavery in this country.
Despite the Emancipation Proclamation, the 365,000 Union soldiers who died to preserve the Union and abolish slavery, and ratification of three constitutional amendments affirming the citizen and equality of former enslaved people, those in power in remote places refused to inform African-Americans that they were free. Consequently, Union soldiers occupying the South made public declarations informing Blacks of their legal freedom. On June 19, 1865 Gen. Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, stating that “all slaves are free. This involves absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
Juneteenth was first celebrated one year later throughout Texas, and the commemoration continued to spread. For a full history, see Professor Kevin Dawson’s essay here.
At UC Merced, there will be opportunities for all of us to pause and reflect on the formal and informal structures that have enabled inequality and exploitation of the Black community. We encourage you to use the day to reflect on what you can do to move our university, our community and the country further toward cultural humility, justice and equality.
UC Merced’s Staff and Faculty of Color Association is facilitating a space for reflection and mindful activity via Zoom at 9 a.m. on Juneteenth. The Merced Black Alliance invites you to celebrate Black artists, poets and musicians also at 7 p.m. at the Old Merced Courthouse, and Movement Merced is organizing a collective action and educational event in concert with Movement for Black Lives on Saturday, June 20 at 11 a.m., also in front of the Old Courthouse.
If you choose to engage in reflective activities on Juneteenth, please notify your supervisor as soon as possible to ensure continuity of any activities essential to campus operations, where applicable.
Black lives always matter. They matter at UC Merced. They matter across our nation. They matter around the world.
In solidarity and in action,
Nathan Brostrom
Interim Chancellor

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