Juneteenth — A Time for Reflection, Education and Celebration

Friday, June 4, 2021

A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President; Carmen Laguer Diaz, Professor, Anthropology and Co-chair Valencia African Heritage Association; Lauren Thomas, Professor, Mathematics, Co-chair Valencia African Heritage Association

Juneteenth ― also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day ― is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two years earlier in 1863, it was on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, that U.S. General Gordon Granger publicly read orders for the immediate liberation of all enslaved people in the state and the active enforcement of liberation began in the remotest of formerly slave states. Annual celebrations began exactly a year later and continue to be recognized worldwide. In recent years, particularly following nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans, there is a renewed interest in learning more about the significance of Juneteenth.

The observance of Juneteenth gives us an opportunity to pause for reflection, educate ourselves about the history of our nation, participate in meaningful conversation, and engage in equity-focused work. We believed that to enact change, it was important to change our conversation. We have done great work, and we will continue to do so. But, we recognize that everyone comes to this work at different levels: those who have led, those who have supported, and even those who have stood on the sidelines. We want to acknowledge your work and let you know we see you. What you do for Valencia College, for our students and our community has played an integral part in the change we want to enact as we move forward.

This work is not new for Valencia. Valencia’s connection to equity and civil rights can be traced to the founding of Valencia Junior College (now Valencia College) in 1967. In the late 1960s, access to higher education for people of color in Orlando was restricted, leaving few options for Orlando citizens to pursue education after high school. Valencia was founded during the Civil Rights movement as an open access institution with the purpose of providing a high quality education to all members of the community. You can read more about Valencia’s historical founding, importance and impact in Valencia Community College: A History of an Extraordinary Learning Community.

Now is the time to change who is in the conversation. We want to invite all of you to lean in, to listen, and to contribute. As a first step, you can learn more about the significance of Juneteenth in this LibGuide, created by our Valencia librarians. The libguide provides information about the history and impact of Juneteenth. It is a great resource for employees and for students who are interested in learning more.

We also invite you to engage in special events created to mark this important date. The Valencia African Heritage Association and Valencia’s Senior Leadership Team are co-sponsoring a talk by Dr. Tiffany Packer, associate professor of history at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Packer has done extensive research on the 1979 Greensboro Massacre and has a particular focus on Post-Civil Rights activism in black working-class communities. She will join us on Thursday, June 17 from 3 – 4 p.m. via Zoom to share her insights on the impact of Juneteenth and to engage with us in an open question and answer session.

In addition, every Friday night in the month of June, you are invited to join the Valencia African Heritage Association for a celebration of Black music during Black Music Month. Each week will center on a theme in Black music and feature our Valencia colleagues sharing their talents with us as we learn, celebrate, and enjoy a great Friday night experience. The first event is this Friday night, June 4 at 7 p.m. and focuses on young pioneers in music.

We encourage you to learn more about Juneteenth and the impact of this pivotal day in our nation’s history. We hope to see you at the events and look forward to continuing the work of shaping Valencia as an institution for equity and opportunity.

1 Comment

  • Melissa said:

    Hello, will this be recorded?

    PMThu, 10 Jun 2021 18:07:51 +0000Thu, 10 Jun 2021 18:07:51 +0000pm21,6:07 pm

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