Sent June 17, 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff,

As you may know, yesterday Mayor Kenney signed an executive order declaring Juneteenth (June 19) a citywide holiday to honor and celebrate the end of slavery in the U.S., aligning with Governor Wolf’s declaration from last year that named Juneteenth “National Freedom Day” throughout Pennsylvania.

The oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth 2020 will mark the 155th anniversary of June 19, 1865, when news and enactment of President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation from two year’s prior reached Texas—the most remote of the country’s slave states.

Beginning this Friday and every June 19 forward, University of the Arts will recognize Juneteenth National Freedom Day as a university-wide holiday for students, faculty and staff.

More than ever, we as a community must acknowledge the history of slavery and subsequent systemic racism that continues to plague our nation and institutions—including higher education institutions like ours—and prioritize time and space for reflection and action.

We encourage students, faculty and staff to use this day for self-education and reflection. If you are unsure about where to start, look to JSTOR’s free Institutional Racism: A Syllabus, the Center for Teaching and Learning’s DEI Teaching Resources and Strategies Page on the portal, and the UArts Black Lives Matter page. We also encourage all to participate in Juneteenth celebrations and actions, like Philadelphia’s virtual Juneteenth Festival.

We hope that you will leverage this day as an opportunity to advance and accelerate our work as individuals and as a community towards anti-racist initiatives. We are uniquely positioned as an arts university to do and be better, as well as ensure the future relevance and equity of our institution for tomorrow.

Best wishes, 

David Yager