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Juneteenth: A Day of Reflection

June 19, 2020

Dear Liberal Arts community,

Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the 19th of June, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed that the Civil War had ended and that they were free from bondage, as had been announced by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and was now enforceable with the surrender of General Lee on April 9.

This is a time when we must listen to the voices in the African American community who teach us about their experiences of systemic racism and dedicate ourselves to the hard work of structural change.

I am pleased to announce that the School of Liberal Arts will celebrate June 19, 2020, as a day of reflection. Staff and faculty in the School of Liberal Arts have been invited to take the day off from usual work. We are able to grant the permission to take Friday as a day of reflection with the understanding that critical needs and essential activities, including teaching, must be completed.

As I announced in my message to the Liberal Arts community last week, this is a time when we must listen to the voices in the African American community who teach us about their experiences of systemic racism and dedicate ourselves to the hard work of structural change. And needless to say, I myself continue to learn and aspire to work with our faculty and staff as an ally in making the Tulane of tomorrow an increasingly welcome space for all. This day is but one of several commitments to do so that I have announced on behalf of the School.

Juneteenth is a holiday that has long been important to African American communities, and is growing in national recognition. In commemorating it within the School of Liberal Arts, we recognize too that many of those in our extended community throughout New Orleans do not have the same space for reflection we are able to extend to our staff and faculty. But we hope too that the meaningful celebration of Juneteenth will become universally shared in our city, state, and nation.

With my warm wishes,
Brian Edwards
Brian Edwards
Dean and Professor
School of Liberal Arts
Tulane University
New Orleans, Lousiana