Juneteenth National Independence Day 2021: A National Holiday

To the UConn Community:

On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Union military authorities reached Galveston, Texas, and enforced the executive order to free all people enslaved in Confederate territories. All people held as slaves in Texas were finally free.

On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday is effective immediately. This designation of Juneteenth Independence Day is  the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.

According to Dr. Matt Delmont, a professor of African American history and the history of Civil Rights at Dartmouth College, Juneteenth is about addressing the issues that continue to face the Black community.  Issues such as healthcare and healthcare disparities, racialized violence, systemic racism and the ban on teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in classrooms. Dr. Carolyn Calloway, chair of African American and African Diaspora studies at Indiana University states that “Juneteenth is a way of calling attention to some of America’s sins, while acknowledging the beautiful possibilities for redemption.” The national holiday is also, “a reminder of our collective struggle for freedom and a commitment to protect all that it entails, including voting rights and equity in justice,” says Dr. Jeffrey Ogbar, professor of history at UConn.

As a community, we must pledge to continue to raise our voices in support of the abolition of hate and racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, ageism and oppression.   Let us commit to being the light!

Let us commit to being activists in the spirit of Miss Opal Lee, a 94-year-old Black activist and retired educator who is known as the grandmother of Juneteenth.  Miss Lee has devoted much of her life to a campaign for making Juneteenth a national holiday. In 2016, at the age of 89, Miss Lee walked 1,400 miles from her home in Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, DC in an effort to get Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Juneteenth National Independence Day!

May love fulfill you, may peace enfold you, may hope envelope you!

Dr. Frank Tuitt

Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer

Office for Diversity and Inclusion


Dr. Willena Kimpson Price

Director – H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center

Affiliate Faculty,  Africana Studies Institute