Honoring Juneteenth

University will observe Juneteenth holiday, President LeBlanc writes, and urges community to continue to actively contribute to the fight for racial justice and true equality.

June 17, 2021

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

As we mark Juneteenth this weekend, it is a time to celebrate and to commemorate the day—on June 19, 1865—that Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing that enslaved Black people were free.  In reflecting on the importance of Juneteenth, I recognize the significance of this moment, which occurred more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and how it reminds us that while we have made progress, we have much more work to do.

Just this afternoon, we received the welcome news that Juneteenth is now officially a federal holiday, and this year it will be observed tomorrow. I am pleased to share that our university also will observe Juneteenth this year. Administrative offices will be closed and classes will not be held tomorrow.  We encourage everyone to observe the day, but due to the timing of this announcement, we understand that there may be work or class obligations that cannot be altered, and we ask faculty and managers to use discretion and communicate any further guidance to their students or staff.  Faculty and staff with clinical, public safety, or other on-site responsibilities will receive additional guidance from their leadership.

I am proud of our GW students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are fostering a welcoming and inclusive community that works across our academic programs, classrooms, and offices to eliminate barriers on our campuses and dismantle systemic racism in society.  Our community is creating events and spaces for all to come together, supporting anti-racism efforts, and advancing initiatives that demonstrate the inclusive community to which we aspire.  Still, I recognize that there will always be more ways to move GW closer to being an antiracist community.  On Juneteenth and every day, I hope that we all will consider how we, both individually and as an institution, can continue to teach, research, advocate, and serve to create a more just world.

This requires a commitment from each of us, and I hope that our community will honor Juneteenth by continuing to actively contribute to the fight for racial justice and moving our university, country, and world closer to true racial equality.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. LeBlanc
President

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