Juneteenth: An important day for reflection

Juneteenth marks the 155th anniversary of the date when enslaved people in Texas finally received word that President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two and a half years earlier. At a moment when our country is reckoning with the racism and discrimination that permeated the history of our country and universities for centuries, we are called to reflect on what we can do individually and collectively to dismantle systemic and structural barriers to equality.  

We want to provide the intellectual space to pause for critical reflection and honest (in many instances painfully so) conversations. We hope these conversations include how we can work together to accelerate progress at Penn, in our community, and in our country. On this year’s Juneteenth, which is this Friday, June 19th, we ask members of the Penn community to take the day off of their regular work as an opportunity to contemplate the historical significance of Juneteenth and how we can learn from our past to chart a more equitable path forward. For those parts of our work that cannot pause for the day, supervisors will work directly with staff to ensure that essential, life-preserving activities continue. All other Penn faculty and staff are encouraged to pause their work for the day to remember the meaning of this important holiday.

We hope you will treat this day as an opportunity to learn from one another, an opportunity not to be missed. Penn is well-positioned to bring together our collective resources to moving our University, our neighborhood, and our country closer to the inclusive university, community, and society in which we all can aspire to live, learn, and work.