This weekend, we at Saint Mary’s University recognize Juneteenth (short for June Nineteenth) — the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth, which honors the end to slavery in the United States, is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
Although it’s appropriate and I am grateful Juneteenth has been recognized as a national holiday, to me, Juneteenth isn’t a day to be celebrated. We as a university — and all — should commemorate it, recognize it, and reflect upon the ultimate injustice and denial of human dignity that occurred for 400 years prior. Juneteenth is a good point of reflection for us as a community to stop and think about what happens when we keep our voice silent and don’t step up and say something, what happens when we don’t acknowledge the dignity in all human life. Juneteenth is a unique opportunity for us to put things in perspective. We have a lot to do and a long way to go. A good place to start is by being intentional about our actions, intentional about conversations, and intentional about building a better place.
I believe the beauty of Saint Mary’s — from what I’ve encountered during my first couple of weeks at this university — is that people aren’t afraid of the change that needs to occur. This is a building block needed to create the community that we are striving for, and I am optimistic about what we will accomplish.
If you would like to discuss this historic moment, related topics, or introduce yourself, I welcome conversations and encourage you to reach out.