A time to reflect and commit to doing better

Next week marks the first recognition of Juneteenth as an official state and federal holiday.

The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when news of the end of the Civil War finally reached Galveston, Texas, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

We appreciate that our state leaders have codified this momentous day into law. Juneteenth has long represented a celebration of freedom. It stands as a day of strength, honoring the spirit of those men, women, and children who lived under the system of slavery in the United States.

Washington State University will be closed in honor of the Juneteenth holiday. We encourage Cougs to join with their local communities to observe this historic occasion. Some of our campuses are participating in events across the state. For example:

  • The WSU Vancouver Support and Empowerment for Employees of Color will host a Gathering in the Park for Juneteenth and Joy from 2–4 p.m. Thursday, June 16.
  • On Friday, June 17, WSU Vancouver will be among the groups participating in the Juneteenth Freedom Celebration in Esther Short Park in Vancouver from 1–7 p.m. We invite all Cougs to submit their affirmations, reflections and creations to the WSU Vancouver Gallery of Affirmations.
  • NAACP Snohomish County will host its annual Juneteenth Community Celebration on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Willis Tucker Park in Snohomish, WA.
  • Sponsored by Palouse CORE, WSU Pullman, and with support from Community Congregational Church of Christ in Pullman, A Celebration of Juneteenth Freedom Day will take place at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center Sunday, June 19, from 1–4 p.m. The free event will feature keynote speaker, Kiantha Duncan, president of Spokane NAACP. All are welcome.
  • Our student leaders are also getting involved, with ASWSU Global hosting a “Hidden Figures” watch party on Monday, June 20, beginning at 7 p.m.

Juneteenth is more than just paying tribute to the landmark accomplishments of the past. It’s about reflecting on what can be done individually and collectively to address the inequities that persist in our society today. We urge all Cougs to continue to learn from history and to create the kind of inclusive world we all want to live in.

KIRK H. SCHULZPresident, WSU SystemELIZABETH S. CHILTONProvost and Executive Vice PresidentChancellor, WSU PullmanDAVID CILLAYVice President, Academic Outreach and InnovationChancellor, WSU GlobalDARYLL DEWALDVice President, Health SciencesChancellor, WSU SpokaneSANDRA HAYNESChancellor, WSU Tri‑CitiesMEL NETZHAMMERChancellor, WSU VancouverPAUL PITREChancellor, WSU Everett