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Observance of Juneteenth Holiday

A message from Dr. Suzanne Rivera

Dear Macalester Community,

Friday, June 19th, is Juneteenth, a state holiday in Minnesota (and in 47 other states) that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.  Some in our community have observed the Juneteenth holiday for many years; some are just beginning to understand its significance.

To learn more about the origins of Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day,” and the traditions that surround its observance, I recommend this video, produced by the Minnesota Historical Society: “Juneteenth: Freedom at Last.”   

Juneteenth is a solemn opportunity to reflect upon the legacy of slavery and on anti-Black racism in our country.  It also is a day of action.  We hope all the members of the Macalester community will take the occasion this Friday to observe Juneteenth in ways that recognize their own relationships to these important issues.

I know Juneteenth has not previously been recognized in an official way at Macalester.  This is a first step.  Going forward, we hope to build specific programming around this holiday.

But, for now, I am asking supervisors to please allow staff who otherwise would be working Friday to use some or all of their work time to engage in activities that feel right to them, whether that be reading and reflecting, volunteering, demonstrating, or some other way of honoring the spirit of the day. We hope faculty, students, and alumni around the country will join in.  (If you want to share with others in the Macalester community how you choose to observe, feel free to post about it on social media with the hashtag #heymac– I plan to do so in order to raise awareness about the importance of the holiday.)

For those who may be looking for more information about Juneteenth to educate themselves, here are some links:


This is Why Juneteenth is Important for America by The Root

What is Juneteenth by HuffPost

The history behind Juneteenth and why it resonates today by Washington Post in 2019

No More Excuses by Forbes

Our plan is to more substantively and properly observe Juneteenth as a community in future years. To that end, I welcome your creative suggestions and feedback about what more Macalester can do to observe the Juneteenth holiday. 

June 16, 2020