Commemorating Juneteenth

Hands raised during Juneteenth celebration

Dear Members of the CUNY SPS Community:

This Monday, June 19, CUNY will close in observance of Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in the United States learned they were free.

The story of Juneteenth serves to remind us that, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first said and as President Obama so often repeated, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Enslaved Africans lived under brutal conditions for more than 250 years before the Civil War brought an end to the evil of slavery. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, it took two years for Union soldiers to reach Galveston, Texas—and to bring the good news of freedom to the enslaved people living there. It took a further 150 years for Juneteenth to enter the national consciousness, and it’s only been in the last three years—amid calls for a more honest reckoning with our nation’s history and the dual legacies of slavery and racism—that our country has begun to formally honor this second independence day.

As you make your plans to celebrate Juneteenth, I am very excited to invite you all to an event organized by the CUNY SPS MA in Applied Theatre (MAAT) program that weekend.

On the evening of June 19, MAAT will host the final event of the program’s 2023 Racial Justice Conference series, “Call and Response: 2 Poets Having Very Black Conversation thru Spoken Word.”

H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, who teaches in the MAAT program, will join fellow poet Rajnii Eddins to share their work and the experiences that inspired them in the tradition of the griot. Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Additionally, I would like to share this informative list of Juneteenth resources, compiled by the CUNY SPS Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED):

Juneteenth History

Around CUNY

Around NYC

I urge you all to take some time over the long weekend to read, watch, and attend the CUNY SPS MAAT event—which promises to be an inspiring and powerful experience—as well as other Juneteenth celebrations near and far.

All the Best,

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Jorge Silva-Puras

Interim Dean, CUNY School of Professional Studies