Commemorate Juneteenth: ‘Move toward healing and justice’

Chancellor Carol Christ, Chief People and Culture Officer Eugene Whitlock, Vice Chancellor, Division of Equity and Inclusion, Oscar Dubon, Jr., Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Equity & Inclusion Mia Settles-Tidwell, and Director the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, People and Culture Lasana Hotep sent the following message to the campus community Thursday:

On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that as of Jan. 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the United States “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” However, it took more than 2 years, until June 19, 1865 — “Juneteenth” — for the enslaved Africans in Texas to be informed and granted their freedom.

One year ago, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, we invited you to commemorate Juneteenth and “genuinely reflect on what you can do to press our university and the country toward our ideals for humanity, justice and equality.” On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a national holiday, a significant step for our country towards acknowledging the grave, historic injustices committed against Black people. At Berkeley, we have taken several steps to move our campus forward:

  • Established and funded the Becoming an Anti-Racist Campus Steering Committee, which is charged with developing an action plan to ensure that our mission of research, teaching and service is fulfilled through antiracist frameworks;
  • Created and funded the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging within People & Culture, which has developed the Berkeley Equity Training Series, a program designed to teach staff members and managers at Cal how to be more culturally fluent and racially literate;
  • Secured Cabinet-level commitments to advance the work of the Chancellor’s African-American Initiative led by the Division of Equity & Inclusion;
  • Co-sponsored the BSFO Juneteenth week of events which included Dr. LaGarrett King’s presentation on The Legacy of Black Freedom Movements; and
  • Developed the Black Community Virtual Resource Guide to address the holistic healing and well-being of the Black Community.

We have both the power and influence to challenge ourselves and others to address the harm done to Black people in this country and move toward healing and justice. If you are looking for something to increase your knowledge and understanding of Anti-Blackness, I encourage you to set aside time on Friday afternoon to watch ‘American Reckoning: A Conversation on Anti-Blackness in Post George Floyd America’, sponsored by People and Culture, for a lively discussion of Anti-Blackness in higher education.

For more information on Juneteenth and what you can do to honor the day, please visit UC Berkeley’s Juneteenth Website. We are working with UCOP to find additional ways to acknowledge the holiday this year in anticipation of taking the day off next year.