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Observing Juneteenth

Presidential Letters

Published April 13, 2021

Dear students, staff and faculty:

Saturday, June 19, marks Juneteenth, which commemorates the anniversary of the day in 1865 that Union troops arrived in Texas and announced that all slaves were now free in accordance with the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Smith College will observe Juneteenth on Monday, June 21, suspending work as usual that day for all staff and faculty.

We encourage the Smith community to use this day to reflect on the history of anti-Black racism in this country and take actions to actively counter racism in all its forms. Here are some resources for fellowship and learning:

  • The Black Staff and Faculty Affinity group, facilitated by Queen Lanier, invites colleagues to gather in community, virtually, at 11 a.m on June 21. Please email to receive a Zoom link.
  • The Office for Equity and Inclusion and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life invite all members of the staff and faculty to participate in Juneteenth conversations at various times on June 21. Please register via this form.
  • The Smith College Libraries offer a curated list of books, articles and videos related to Juneteenth and anti-racism actions.
  • A number of local and regional sites linked to Black heritage are available to visit virtually or in person. They include the African American Heritage Trail and Sojourner Truth Memorial (Florence, Mass.); The David Ruggles Center for History and Education (Florence, Mass.); the Olive Tree Books-N-Voices (Springfield, Mass.); and The Amistad Center for Art and Culture (Hartford, Conn.).

Education, reflection and action are central to the college’s strategic plan for racial justice.

Juneteenth calls us to reflect on freedom gained as well as freedom deferred, and to recommit to actions that will lead to equity and inclusion for African Americans.


Kathleen McCartney

Floyd Cheung
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion