Skip to content

Juneteenth is a day to celebrate Black liberation and continue the fight for equality

Ways to engage

UW’s Black Opportunity Fund – Support for scholarships, programs and services that amplify and elevate Black experiences and communities

Celebrate Juneteenth with the Northwest African American Museum

Discover Pass free day  – Sunday, June 19, Explore Washington state parks and recreation lands for free

Kent Black Action Commission Juneteenth Celebration – Saturday, June 18, 10 am-3 pm at Morrill Meadows Park

Juneteenth celebration in Rainier Beach – Sunday, June 19 from 11 am-3 pm at the Rainier Beach Community Center

Festival Sundiata Black Arts Fest – June 17-19 Juneteenth event at Seattle Center – Ten national museums of African American history — including Seattle’s NAAM — commemorating and celebrating Juneteenth

Yesterday, each of our three campuses proudly raised the Pan-African flag, and this coming Monday will mark Washington’s official state holiday in honor of Juneteenth and Black American liberation. These are joyous events – a communal celebration of the progress toward true freedom and equality for Black people in this nation. But Juneteenth is also a day to humbly acknowledge how far we still have to go to reach that ideal, and an opportunity to contribute to change through acts of service and reflection.

Evidence of persistent and systemic inequality in our society is pervasive and devastating: the recent mass murder in a Buffalo supermarket was an act of terror motivated by racist ideology that has made its way into the mainstream. Black individuals and communities continue to experience unequal access to health care and the conditions that promote health, from greater exposure to air pollution to recovering from the health and economic impacts of Covid. By so many measures, from housing to education to employment, we still struggle to close the racial gap that is the long-tailed legacy of chattel slavery, Jim Crow and countless other overt and covert institutions built to oppress Black people.

Universities – particularly large, public research institutions like the University of Washington – have a significant and distinct role to play in tackling these stubborn problems. Creating access to a world-class education for BIPOC students is a critical part of that role. That includes ensuring that students of color and their families see enrolling in the UW as academically and financially possible. It also includes a commitment to making the UW a place where students from every background feel safe, welcome and a sense of belonging, with access to the supportive people, programs and communities that empower students to thrive inside and outside the classroom.

Raising the Pan-African flag on the Seattle campus

In tandem with our educational mission, our University has incredible capacity to create impact through partnership and engagement with communities, support for minority-owned businesses, research that informs public policy and public perception, and as a major provider of healthcare and healthcare education in our state and region. I’m proud of the values that I see our community live and practice every day, and I am filled with optimism that through our work, and the work of our large and diverse alumni community, meaningful, systemic change is possible.

But real change will only come as the result of committed and sustained action. I encourage everyone to take the occasion of Juneteenth to celebrate Black liberation and reflect on what changes must take place for our nation and world to become equitable and inclusive. Through our shared commitment and effort, the journey toward Black liberation will continue. I’m proud to be part of this extraordinary community of people who are making it happen.