Next Saturday, June 19, marks Juneteenth, the oldest national celebration of African American freedom in the United States. On this date in 1865 — two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation — the announcement reached the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas that all slaves were free. The ensuing celebrations — ranging from the day of June 19, the week, and the month — have since spread nationally, and have continued to gain traction as official holidays through the decades.
Last year, St. Catherine University added Juneteenth as an official University holiday as part of our commitment to creating an inclusive culture and acknowledging the contributions and experiences of African Americans. In honor of this important history, there will be no classes and offices will be closed on June 18. We encourage our St. Kate’s community to take this time to honor Black identity, culture, and history; to learn, celebrate, and reflect; to commemorate the “profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom,” as author Jamelle Bouie writes in The New York Times.
As an institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who urged us to “care for the dear neighbor without distinction,” St. Catherine University is committed to inclusive excellence and the knowledge that it is not enough to simply denounce oppression — we must actively engage in the struggle for freedom for all in the ways that we live, work, and learn.
More about Juneteenth and activities:
- Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
- Hennepin County Library
- Saint Paul Public Library
- Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
“Juneteenth [is] the day we celebrate the end of slavery, the day we memorialize those who offered us hope for the future, and the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom.”
— Angela Davis, Juneteenth 2020 (Oakland, California)