Commemorating Juneteenth

Dear campus community,

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was hailed as signaling the end of slavery for African Americans in the secessionist states of the Confederacy. Even with the Civil War’s end two years later, liberation did not reach every region of the country. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that enslaved people in Texas would be set free by Union General Gordon Granger.  

The Juneteenth holiday we observe this month marks that important date when institutional slavery finally, and belatedly, ended for African Americans. 

As part of commemorating the holiday and celebrating Black culture, please consider attending the Juneteenth Gala organized by the Black Graduate Student Association this Saturday, June 18, at 7 p.m. at The Xperience in the Kalamazoo City Centre. In addition, several other Juneteenth events will be held in the Kalamazoo community.

As we reflect on the historical marker of June 19, 1865, we should also recognize the lingering vestiges of slavery in our country. Official declarations of abolition didn’t put an end to racism and systematic discrimination. To this day, the fight for racial justice continues, including on our campus.

Our Racial Justice Advisory Committee (RJAC) has been engaged in examining our policies and practices that may have contributed to systemic racism and racial inequity at Western while identifying and prioritizing countermeasures and creating systems of accountability. RJAC’s work continues, and our campus community can expect to hear its recommendations this fall.

While we have come a long way, we have a very long way to go. Each one of us can play a role in creating a more just world and culture of change here at the University and beyond. 

Thank you,

Edward Montgomery