Commemorating Juneteenth

As Penn observes Juneteenth as an official University holiday, Penn Today chronicles events and resources across campus.

Person dancing at a Juneteenth celebration wearing a t-shirt that reads BREAKING EVERY CHAIN SINCE 1865.
Image: USAG-Humphreys

This year, as Penn observes Juneteenth as an official academic holiday, areas of the University reflect and hold events to mark the occasion commemorating June 19th, 1865, the day on which slavery was effectively ended in the United States.

Reflecting on the significance of Juneteenth in the present day, Eve Higginbotham, vice dean for inclusion and diversity and professor of ophthalmology at the Perelman School of Medicine, writes, “Imagine learning for the first time that this federal edict [the Emancipation Proclamation] signed on January 1, 1863 and not hearing this news, for the first time, until June 19, 1865. Can you imagine learning for the first time, more than two years had passed before you were told that you are free? Although you appreciate the restoration of the rights which should never had been stolen from you in the first place, you resent the delay, a system failure that created additional, unfair burden to your existence on this earth.”

“Fast forward to 2022, when in some ways we continue to experience the absence of communicating with large segments of our community, resulting in inequities in care and opportunity.”

In 2021, the University announced the decision to recognize Juneteenth as part of the University’s academic calendar and make it a recognized University holiday.

Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, associate dean for equity and justice and chief diversity, equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officer in the Penn Carey Law School, says, “While we recognize the significance of Juneteenth as our newest national holiday, we acknowledge how much work to advance racial justice still remains.” Moving towards that goal, Finkelstein shares resources available in the Biddle Law Library and Juneteenth resources aimed at engaging “more deeply in the work of anti-racism.”

Working towards equity in the arts, WXPN first collaborated last year with WRTI and RECPhilly on Black Music City, which awarded grants to artists across various disciplines. In the second year of the partnership, the culminating Black Music City event will honor the 46 grant winners—writers, photographers, singer-songwriters, and podcasters—all of whom are producing new work about the legacy and future of Black music in the city of Philadelphia.

Juneteenth events

Sunday, June 19, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.:
Black Music City at World Café Live Philadelphia
To celebrate the second year of the Black Music City collaboration, the event will feature project highlights and musical performances from a handful of grant winners, along with spoken word, photography, video, painting, sculpture, fashion and more. Philly rapper The Bul Bey MCs the event, which is free to attend with RSVP.

Monday, June 20, 5:30 p.m.:
Special Juneteenth Lecture (Zoom)
Hosted by the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania Committee on Anti-Racism and co-sponsored by Penn Medicine’s Department of OBGYN and FOCUS, Raegan McDonald-Mosley, CEO of Power to Decide, will speak about “Reproductive Oppression Yesterday and Today and Why it Matters.”