By Jutta Seibert
On Monday, June 19, the Villanova community, along with the United States, commemorates Juneteenth. The University added Juneteenth to its list of holidays in 2020 to allow staff, faculty, and students to observe this important day in the nation’s history with family and friends.
A portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth, Juneteenth references June 19, 1865, the day on which the news that all slaves are free reached Galveston, Texas. The Civil War had been effectively over for more than two months, but the news had not yet reached the far corners of the country. The following year African Americans in Texas began celebrating the end of slavery on June 19 of every year.
Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, (Black) Independence Day, and Jubilee Day.
Not unexpectedly Texas was the first state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, first by proclamation in 1937 followed by legislation in 1979. Other states followed suit, among them Pennsylvania in 2019. On June 17, 2020, President Joseph Biden elevated Juneteenth to a federal holiday, one of only eleven, by signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.
The University’s commitment to race and justice goes well beyond recognizing Juneteenth as an important holiday. In 2020 Aequitas, the Presidential Task Force on Race began to assess the racial climate on campus. One of the measures proposed by the task force was a university-wide required course on race and justice, which is currently piloted on campus.
Another noteworthy initiative is the Rooted Project that aims to explore the University’s historical ties to slavery, segregation, and institutionalized racism, among others, and to educate the community about issues of race and justice.
Join Falvey staff in commemorating and celebrating this special day!
For those still looking for an inspiring read for this summer, here are some suggestions:
- Strait, Kevin Michael Angelo, and Kinshasha Conwill. Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 2023.
Unfortunately, the Library’s copy is already checked out but consider a ticket for the exhibition of the same name at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- Etoke, Nathalie. Black Existential Freedom. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2023.
“Black Existential Freedom looks at the ways in which Black cultural productions reflect a constant struggle for freedom and a refusal to surrender to the destructive forces of dehumanization.”
- Manjapra, Kris. Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation. New York: Scribner, 2022.
“Black Ghost of Empire focuses on emancipation and how this opportunity to make right further codified the racial caste system-instead of obliterating it.” In case you missed it, Manjapra recently spoke on campus.
- Davis, Thulani. The Emancipation Circuit: Black Activism Forging a Culture of Freedom. Durham: Duke University Press, 2022.
“Thulani Davis provides a sweeping rethinking of Reconstruction by tracing how the four million people newly freed from bondage created political organizations and connections that mobilized communities across the South.”
- Ray, Victor. On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters and Why You Should Care. New York: Random House, 2022.
- Mills, Charles W. The Racial Contract. 25th anniversary ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2022.
“The Racial Contract puts classic Western social contract theory, deadpan, to extraordinary radical use. With a sweeping look at the European expansionism and racism of the last five hundred years, Charles W. Mills demonstrates how this peculiar and unacknowledged ‘contract’ has shaped a system of global European domination.”
- Givens, Terri E. The Roots of Racism: The Politics of White Supremacy in the US and Europe. Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2022.
- DeSalle, Rob, and Ian Tattersall. Understanding Race. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.
- Gates, Henry Louis, Jr, and Andrew S. Curran. Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-century Invention of Race. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 2022.
Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Library.
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