Juneteenth: Freedom Day - June 19

Students, faculty and employees are invited to reflect on the cultural and historical significance of the holiday and how to carry on its legacy.

The United States officially recognizes Juneteenth on June 19, 2023. The day commemorates when, in 1865, enslaved African Americans in the United States received their freedom. Although three-quarters of the state legislatures ratified the 13th Amendment on December 6 of that year that formally freed enslaved Americans, June 19 marks the day when the first enslaved community received news of their freedom as outlined by Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

Adelphi first recognized Juneteenth in 2020. Last year, the University was closed in honor of the day on Friday, June 17. This year marks the first in which Adelphi will be closed on the day Juneteenth is observed.

The celebration will begin before then. On Friday, June 16, the Center for African, Black and Caribbean Studies and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging will host “Juneteenth Commemoration: The Significance of Juneteenth.”

According to Chotsani Williams West, MA ‘07, assistant vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, “We will take time to commemorate this day … lest we forget. We look forward to the fellowship with our Adelphi community as we recognize how far we have come, yet how far we must journey.”

The Significance of Juneteenth

“Juneteenth is a celebration of the freedom of enslaved Black people in the United States and is considered Black Independence Day or Freedom Day by many,” said R. Sentwali Bakari, PhD, vice president for student affairs. He noted that as a child growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the holiday “was viewed by our family and the Black community in Milwaukee as a proud reminder of our great African ancestry and struggle for justice and economic empowerment.”

He continued, “I believe it’s important for our country and University to celebrate Juneteenth because it demonstrates a commitment to recognize and commemorate a significant milestone of world history while raising our campus community’s consciousness about Black people’s resiliency and fight for freedom, justice and self-determination.”

A Day That Transcends Background and Culture

Dr. Sentwali said the holiday has significance to all U.S. citizens, regardless of race. “Juneteenth is world history and a milestone in American history,” he explained, adding that learning about the experiences of people of color “are beneficial to everyone. Adelphi students are in a wonderful position when they articulate and demonstrate how they value and appreciate the lived experiences of all human beings. They become citizens of the world and are more prepared to interact with an increasingly global society and marketplace.”

Christopher Davis, PhD, assistant professor of African American history in the Center for African Black and Caribbean Studies said he believes that all students and faculty should seek to acknowledge Juneteenth’s impact, regardless of race or ethnicity. “Although Juneteenth focuses on African Americans, it is very much an American holiday,” he explained. “I think it can serve as a day of celebration of what democracy can mean for marginalized communities, but also a day of reflection on how to grapple with the lofty ideals of freedom and how they were not always guaranteed for all. Juneteenth is a day of recognizing the growth of the nation.”

Informative Juneteenth Resources from Adelphi University Libraries

Phone Number
More Info
Levermore Hall, 205
Search Menu