Happy Juneteenth! - June 19, 2023

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

Today marks a significant moment in our history – a time we should reflect on the sacrifices and contributions enslaved Black Americans made to our country.

On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordan Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to inform African Americans that the Civil War ended. Granger read General Order No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” That day 250,000 Texan slaves learned of their freedom from slavery. It’s important to remember that the freedom announced to Texas citizens that day took place several years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation – providing the foundation for establishing Juneteenth to honor the end of slavery in the United States and an opportunity for hope and restoration.

Texans began celebrating Juneteenth by having family gatherings, prayer vigils, and discussions of African American history and excellence, among other things. Years later, Reverend Jack Yates purchased Emancipation Park, and for decades to come Texans celebrated Juneteenth in the park. Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas on Jan. 1, 1980, and on June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Though Juneteenth is a day of celebration, reflection, and growth, one thing for sure is that enslaved Black Americans never lost sight of hope in their fight for freedom. Please take this opportunity to do something in honor of this special day.

  • Attend a celebration, webinar, or watch a celebration. On June 19, CNN and OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) will simulcast Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom at 8 p.m. The concert will feature artists across multiple genres. CNN will kick off pre-show coverage at 7 p.m., highlighting Black advocates, trailblazers, and creators.
  • Read about Juneteenth. See an assortment of powerful quotes highlighted in Good Housekeeping
  • Donate time to an organization focused on enhancing human capital
  • Patronize Black-owned businesses
  • Make a donation supporting African American educational programming/scholarships
  • Visit the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit to celebrate and honor the day

Society reminds us that we still have work to do to eliminate inequalities to advance human rights. But on this day, let's be reminded of Juneteenth’s significance and the progress we can collectively achieve together.

James Smith, Ph.D.


Doris Fields, Ph.D.

Interim Chief Diversity Officer