Office of the President

June 19, 2020

We honor Juneteenth and commit to the work ahead

Ana Mari Cauce


Juneteenth: The growth of an African American holiday (1865- )

Anti-racism resources
The UW Race & Equity Initiative

Juneteenth Celebration
National Museum of African American History & Culture

Today, people across our nation are commemorating Juneteenth, the day in 1865 on which enslaved people in Texas learned that the Civil War and their enslavement were at an end, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became law. Juneteenth has long been celebrated as an Independence Day in the Black community, and Professor Emeritus Quintard Taylor has written a history of the day and its significance. As a University, we are proud to join in recognizing the significance – both historic and ongoing – of a day celebrating Black liberation.

Our nation is in the midst of a new reckoning – long overdue and far from complete – with the deeply-rooted racism that manifests in both blatant and insidious ways. Commemorating Juneteenth is one step towards fully acknowledging the human lives and labor that were stolen in the making of America. We must confront that painful truth and listen to those who carry the legacy of their enslaved forebears if we have any hope of a renewal that truly honors the values of equity, justice and freedom.

The great American novelist Ralph Ellison wrote in his posthumously-published novel, “Juneteenth,” that, “It’s the little things that find us out, the little things we refuse to do in order to avoid doing the big things that can save us.” Today we celebrate a day in the history of Black liberation that occurred 155 years ago amidst painful proof all around us of how far short we still are from that goal.

Tomorrow, and in the days, weeks and years to come, we commit to the big things, the hard work, and the actions that will lead to meaningful, lasting change.