Commemorating a day of freedom UofL joins numerous other colleges and universities to now observe Juneteenth as an official holiday

    Juneteenth at UofL
    Juneteenth at UofL

    It’s a celebration of liberation and freedom, and a powerful reminder of racial and social justice goals yet to be fully realized. Juneteenth, or June 19, is the day when in 1865 enslaved persons in Texas and other southern states were finally freed – more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

    In observation, the University of Louisville beginning this year and going forward will recognize June 19 as an official university holiday. Since Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, UofL will observe it by canceling classes and closing offices on Friday, June 18.

    The Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) led the effort encouraging the university to formally recognize the holiday, and is helping sponsor and organize numerous commemoration events throughout the week.

    “In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, ‘[n]obody’s free until everybody’s free.’ Now, we can all observe Juneteenth as a true all-encompassing independence where we support efforts toward anti-racism and social justice,” said BFSA President Carcyle Barrett.

    Remaining Juneteenth events include:

    • “Noir Louisville’s Juneteenth Experience – Educating and Celebrating Juneteenth” June 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sponsored by the Black Faculty/Staff Association and Noir Louisville, this trivia event will explore the history of Juneteenth and celebrate Black culture.
    • Eagles to Rest Project restoring Greenwood Cemetery, where hundreds of Black military veterans are buried. Saturday, June 19, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The program is headed by the National Association for Black Veterans. UofL’s participation is sponsored by the UofL Alumni Association, Office of Community Engagement, the Cultural Center, the Multicultural Teacher Recruitment Program and the African American Alumni Council.
    • “The Taboo of Race: Color-Blind Racism and the Violent Brain” with guest speaker Dr. Oliver Rollins, a sociologist who explores the ways race, racism and other social processes of inequality impact the making and use of neuroscience. Monday, June 21, at noon. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity and the BFSA.
    • “Joining the Conversation: Becoming Antiracist,” a videoconference based on Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s best-selling text, “How To Be an Antiracist.” Hosted by the Alumni Association, the event will be held on Zoom Monday, June 21, from 5 to 7 p.m.

    “The history is ugly, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught. We teach it so people will know what happened and prevent history from repeating itself,” said Master’s Entry into Professional Nursing student Derrick Olanrewaju.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.