On July 19, 1865, approximately two months after the defeat of the Confederacy, enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, TX were notified of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War. Since then, Black Americans have celebrated June 19 as their Independence Day. “Juneteenth” is a national celebration of Black freedom and independence in the United States of America
Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, is believed by many to have ended slavery, but due to its limitations and slave holders’ refusal to comply, very few slaves were freed. Three years later, on January 31,1865, the 13th Amendment was passed as a formal abolishment of slavery. The Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.
Many of us recognize that the 13th Amendment did not end all forms of slavery and oppression experienced by Black bodies. The addition of the 14thAmendment in 1868, gave former slaves the same rights and liberties granted to other citizens in the Bill of Rights. In the last year, national attention has been brought to the Black Lives Matter movement and the countless injustices suffered by black bodies at the hands of capitalism.
On Juneteenth, we take time to rest and to celebrate how far we have come. We celebrate the life of Kobe Bryant, the election of VP Kamala Harris, and the indictment of Derek Chauvin. We call off work to attend cookouts, concerts, protests, festivals, and intellectual conversations to recognize our history, heritage, and hard work.
In aiming to make Pitt Law an institution that acknowledges and values diversity and inclusion, the Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence and the Black Law Students’ Association would like to encourage students, faculty, and staff to learn more about this significant holiday and celebrate not just Black history but U.S. history.
This is the first year that the federal government and the city of Pittsburgh are recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday. And Pittsburgh is doing so with several awesome events. From June 18-20, join WPA at Mellon Park for a black music festival. You can also join the Greenwood project on Saturday, June 19th from Noon-5 p.m. for a “Draped in Gold” day party or spend your morning at Everyday Café with Brunch and Conversations discussing violence in policing and the spiritual power of African cosmologies.
If you can’t make it out to the events mentioned above, please find below links that provide more history on Juneteenth and emphasize its significance in American history.
There are a lot of policy and legislative proposals that have been introduced by public and elected officials at every level of government and by activists and community organizations. We’ve compiled this overview to help you make sense of everything that is out there so you can advocate for the policies you support. Read on to learn about different frameworks for police reform, demands from the community, and policy proposals from public and elected officials.
The killings of Black people at the hands of police have prompted weeks of protests, with people around the country calling for changes to policing to end racial discrimination and police brutality. The calls for justice are not new – Black activists have been working to dismantle systemic racism for centuries – but the momentum behind this most recent wave of activism is significant. As a society, we are being forced to grapple with racial disparities in policing.
Pitt's Division of Student Affairs stands in soldiarity with our Black-identifying students and students of color and against systemic racism, police brutality, and injustice in any form. As part of our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students, we are educating ourselves on the history of race in the United States of America, learning best practices in how to hold conversations about racism, and taking immediate, actionable steps toward change.
The above toolkit is designed to meet you where you are. Some content is specifically aimed toward our Student Affairs staff, and some content is offered for our students. Some content addresses the concerns and trauma of Black-identifying students and staff, and some content addresses the concerns of White students and staff. Some of us are deep into the conversation about social justice, and some of us are just learning about these concepts. Wherever you are--start where you are today.