To: Members of the University Community
From: Robert J. Zimmer and Ka Yee C. Lee
Date: June 19, 2020
Today marks Juneteenth, an annual observance of the end of slavery in the United States—a day that reminds us that even though freedom had been granted by the Emancipation Proclamation, it still took years before the final enslaved Black Americans in this country learned of their emancipation.
In the many years since, the work toward true freedom and equality for all has continued. However, as the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others show, we are not there yet. The promise of freedom remains out of reach for many unless we as individuals and a society act to make it so for everyone.
With that in mind, we invite everyone to commemorate this day with reflection—to learn and listen, to examine history, to challenge assumptions, and to explore bold ideas to address racism and inequality. This is also a time for us as a University and as members of this community to take a fresh look at concrete actions we all can take to build a more just community, and to strengthen our culture of diversity and inclusion so that all members of our campus community are welcome and valued.