June 18, 2021

Dear Spelman community,

On June 19, 1865, the enslaved population in Galveston, Texas, was finally made aware of the Emancipation Proclamation, two and a half years after it was signed into law on January 1, 1863. Since that time, Juneteenth has been celebrated throughout the Black community as our true Independence Day.

This week President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which designates Juneteenth as a federal holiday. As June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, Spelman employees can observe this holiday on Monday, June 21, 2021. Because this notice is arriving late, we recognize that it may not be possible to arrange for a day off at this late notice. With permission from your supervisor, for this year, you may choose a substitute day. In the future, we will incorporate the Juneteenth national holiday into the official annual academic calendar.

While Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is a momentous step for the  Nation, we know that the impact of enslavement is still evident in America and can be seen in the current debate over teaching Critical Race Theory in schools, the attack on voting rights, and disparate access to economic opportunities.

While we celebrate, we remain present in our pursuit of equality, equity, and the creation of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive nation.

In honor of Juneteenth, I invite you to listen to Richard Benson, Ph.D., associate professor in Spelman’s Department of Education, examine Critical Race Theory on NPR’s "Closer Look with Rose Scott," or watch Spelman professor of economics Suneye Rae Holmes, discuss how it is going to require "generational solutions" in order to address the "generational harm" that has impacted Black Americans on

Also, we will share a recording of my talk, "What Juneteenth Means to Me, to the African American Community, and to all Americans," from today on our social media platforms once it is available.

As we reflect on our long, ongoing struggle for the full realization of our rights and privileges as citizens, let us also celebrate the joy of coming together as a community and the strength of remaining undaunted by the fight.

Happy Juneteenth,
Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College


Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

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