President Hanlon recognizes Juneteenth as it becomes a federal holiday.

To the Dartmouth community,

This Saturday, June 19, is the annual celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest national commemoration connected to the Emancipation Proclamation order.

Although the order to free enslaved people was issued in 1863, it was not until two and a half years later on June 19, 1865, that the news reached African Americans still in bondage in Galveston, Texas. The first known celebrations of Juneteenth can be traced back to 1866. This week, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill to make June 19 "Juneteenth National Independence Day," a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This measure is an important step toward recognizing the historical and present-day impact of slavery on this nation. Over the next few months, we will consider how we can best celebrate and amplify the meaning of Juneteenth throughout the Dartmouth community going forward.

As we strive to build a society that is inclusive and just, it is critical that we examine and challenge the systems of racism and oppression that restrict and shape the lives of Black people and that we embrace an accurate accounting of past wrongs and persistent problems. Last weekend, we welcomed commencement speaker Annette Gordon-Reed '81, a distinguished historian whose most recent book, "On Juneteenth," blends a deeply personal portrait of her upbringing in Texas with an historical analysis that offers a fresh and thoughtful take on her home state and our country's past. I encourage you to take time this weekend to reflect on that past, the way forward, and the role we all can play in creating equity and justice in our communities.


Philip J. Hanlon '77