The Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863 did not immediately end slavery in the United States. In parts of the country there were still Black people who were forced to work illegally for their slave masters. On June 19, 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of the Emancipation Proclamation and realized that for two years they had been exploited by their slave owners despite the change in their legal status from enslaved to free. Since 1866, June 19, or Juneteenth, has been a day of celebration to mark the end of institutional slavery in the United States.
Our shared mission of walking with those whose dignity has been violated in a journey of reconciliation and justice asks us to stop and reflect on the struggles of Black and Brown people, not just for civil rights, but for access to good education, well-paying jobs that confer meaning and dignity, decent and affordable housing, accessible healthcare, personal safety, environmental justice, and above all an end to the adversities they encounter in policies and structures that continue to promote systemic racism.
In the spirit of the Ignatian Examen, Juneteenth is an opportunity for Le Moyne administrators, faculty and staff to intentionally review our personal and professional decisions and actions through the lens of equity in order to root out exploitative practices and more fully and consistently treat each member of our community with dignity and respect.
On Monday, June 20, as we take a break from work, please remember that by commemorating the events that took place in Galveston in 1865, Juneteenth is also an invitation to be in solidarity with and support of the collective and individual aspirations for true freedom for Black and Brown people in America.
Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D., President
Fr. Charles Oduke, Ph.D., Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion