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DU commemorates Juneteenth with University holiday and events

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Christopher M. Whitt

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Letter  •

Dear DU community,

On Monday, June 19th, our nation will again commemorate the Juneteenth holiday. In addition to closing the university on the holiday, DU, through our Black Community Initiatives in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is offering a host of opportunities for education, engagement, and celebration in alignment with this year’s DEI theme of “Justice in Action” starting this evening and going through Tuesday. More details can be found here.

Juneteenth continues to serve as a reminder that our nation’s wealth and prosperity were built largely by the energy, efforts and sacrifices of Black people who were enslaved and dehumanized, while never relinquishing their dignity. It is vital that we acknowledge and confront this painful history, even as attempts to overlook or dismiss it continue. The paths that led us to our present reality must not be obscured or forgotten.

As an institution of higher education, we are positioned to protect history and uphold the truth. Even in the face of so many challenges, Black people have continued to find their ways to joy and success. Please make time to celebrate these triumphs while also contemplating the horrors woven through our history so we do not allow similar ills to be repeated. Through active listening and thoughtful engagements in difficult conversations pertaining to the legacies of this painful history that remain with us today, we will be best positioned to craft a more just and equitable future, together.  

Thoughtful engagements with the true root and meaning of Juneteenth in our current context allow us to envision transformational possibilities toward the greater good. There are so many opportunities to push for progress to be found in our institutions, in our systems, in our structures and in our hearts. We simply need to choose to remain open to the ideas of justice in action even when they might look like something we have yet to imagine.  

In all the Juneteenth engagements being provided via DU as well as so many others beyond DU, let’s never forget opportunities in each of our lives where we can speak up and act to make a better world. Let this Juneteenth provide a moment to remember the importance of using the platforms available to us to move forward even though the sober truths of our history are not going to change. As we put good intentions into meaningful action in this season of strain, we will better position ourselves collectively for more just communities, institutions and society.

In Solidarity,

Christopher M. Whitt, Ph.D

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion