Greetings Huskies, 


We write today to share with you our excitement that this week both the state and federal government officially declared June 19 a holiday in observance of Juneteenth.  


The timing of the bills creating the holiday does not allow time to officially observe Juneteenth as a campus holiday this year. However, we encourage all members of the NIU community to seek out celebrations of this important day in their own communities. In DeKalb, the NIU Center for Black Studies will join New Hope Baptist Church in hosting DeKalb´┐Żs first Juneteenth Community Celebration, from noon until 5 p.m., at 1015 Blackhawk Road, in DeKalb.  


In the days ahead, NIU will consider how best to incorporate this celebration as a holiday in the official university calendar.  


Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The day was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas, in 1866 to mark the day one year earlier when Union soldiers landed there, bringing the news that the Civil War had ended and that African Americans were no longer legally enslaved. To African Americans, June 19 is Emancipation Day, and it has been part of many African American family traditions throughout the United States for 155 years, especially in states like Texas. Juneteenth has come to symbolize a national day of freedom to African Americans in the same way that July Fourth symbolizes freedom for all Americans. It is a day to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit.  


While the signing of this bill in 2021 is important and cause for joy, we know that we have more to do beyond this celebration. We must confront the legacy of slavery in America and continue to make strides toward co-creating a community of belonging where all people are treated with humanity and dignity.


Go Huskies! 


Lisa C. Freeman 

Vernese Edghill-Walden
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer




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