Dear Gamecock community,
On Monday, June 20, 2022, the nation commemorates Juneteenth, a national holiday marking the day in 1865 when enslaved Africans learned they were free under federal orders known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture:
Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas.
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the promise of freedom, opportunity, and hope. For African Americans, Juneteenth is a day of reflection, celebration and fellowship.
One this day I encourage our Gamecock community to reflect and commemorate the holiday by celebrating African American contributions to America. This can be done by attending a community event such as the Juneteenth Freedom Festival in Columbia, a cultural celebration, or supporting a Black-owned business.
As a campus and a community, we must continue to learn about our true and accurate history. Even the history that we may not be proud of. The goal in front of us as an institution is to work diligently to ensure that all students, staff, faculty and residents feel a deep sense of belonging.
This will only occur through honest engagement, inquiry and reflection. The University of South Carolina seal states that “learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel.”
The lesson of Juneteenth is to reflect on the lives and sacrifices of those then-enslaved Africans and give voice to their experiences here in the present by celebrating African American culture.
Juneteenth is a day of learning and through that learning may we find beauty and humanity in our differences.
Julian R. Williams, J.D.
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion