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Drexel University Observes Juneteenth

June 14, 2021

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Last year, we inaugurated Juneteenth as one of Drexel’s official holidays, and I am delighted once again to acknowledge and celebrate this pivotal moment in the history of the struggle for freedom for Black Americans.

Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States, which came more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. It was on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, following the end of the Civil War and the arrival of federal troops, that those enslaved were finally freed. The National Museum of African American History and Culture calls Juneteenth “our country’s second Independence Day.” The widespread celebration of the anniversary dates back to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. Today, it includes official acknowledgements in almost every state, as well as events sponsored by the Smithsonian and other institutions to expand awareness and embrace Black contributions to the history and culture of this country.

In Pennsylvania, the day has been designated Juneteenth National Freedom Day by Gov. Tom Wolf. In Philadelphia, due to the pandemic, the Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Festival will hold a series of events this year, rather than its annual parade. As the festival sponsors note, “Juneteenth represents a historic triumph of the human spirit.”

In honor of Juneteenth and with a deep commitment to fostering understanding and supporting racial justice, the Drexel Office of Equality and Diversity and the Center for Black Culture will host a panel in partnership with departments from across the University as part of our “Frank Conversation” series. The event, “Looking Back to Move Forward: A Frank Conversation in Commemoration of Juneteenth,” will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Please register at this link.

And, because Juneteenth falls on Saturday, Drexel will close on Friday, June 18, to allow students, faculty and professional staff to observe Juneteenth this year.

I urge everyone in the Drexel community to take this opportunity to honor this historic milestone in the long and continuing struggle to fulfill the promise of freedom for Black Americans.


John Fry