Juneteenth is the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the news took two years to travel to the last enclave of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. While Juneteenth has been recognized for decades by black communities across the nation, it has gained a wider recognition since being minted a federal holiday in 2021.

Former President Barack Obama described Juneteenth this way:

Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.”

Recognizing that there is more work to do, we set aside Juneteenth as a day of remembrance, celebration and education. It honors those who suffered enslavement, celebrates the valuable contributions of black innovators whose influence has – then and since – left an undeniable mark on the world, and calls upon us to address the racial disparities that still exist today. It is a reminder that we must work towards a future where Every One of Us Counts, and all are treated equally.

Each of us – no matter our color, size, or age – has a right to expect to be treated with dignity, recognition, and respect. As community college professionals, we must ensure that every student, faculty and staff member has a seat at our communal table. You have only to look into our classrooms, to realize that diversity lies at the core of our mission. We are, first and foremost, an educational institution, but we also serve as a bastion of calmness, serenity, safety, and opportunity for all who enter our doors.

CCBC recognizes Juneteenth as a significant marker not only in Black History, but American History. It is a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. At CCBC we must continue to ensure that everyone feels valued, diversity remains a strength, and all cultures, ideas and viewpoints are honored. Working together, we can create a more just and equitable environment not only for our college community but also for society at large.