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A message in observance of Juneteeth from Pitt Law’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence (OEIE)

On this Friday, June 19, we recognize Juneteenth, a celebration of Black independence in The United States of America.

On June 19, 1865, Black Americans were officially granted independence, marking the end of American chattel slavery in the United States. Since then, Black Americans have viewed June 19 as their Independence Day.

Juneteenth is legally significant, because on that date in 1865 was the first time the 13th Amendment, passed earlier that year, was enforced in the southern states.

This enforcement came two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on Jan. 1, 1863. While many believe that Lincoln’s Proclamation ended slavery, the Proclamation only ordered the freedom of slaves in the “rebellious” states. The effect of the Proclamation was not instantaneous, as many slaves were not granted their freedom until two months after the end of the Civil War due to slaveholders’ refusals to comply.

On June 18, 1865, the Union Army rode through Galveston, TX and General Gordon Granger read General Orders No.03 to the enslaved. General Orders No.3 read in part:

“The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor.”

To make Pitt Law an institution that acknowledges and values diversity and inclusion, the Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence and the Black Law Student’s Association would like to encourage students, faculty, and staff to learn about this significant holiday. That is not just Black history, but U.S. history. Below are links that provide more history on Juneteenth and emphasize its significance in American history. 

In Solidarity,

Pitt Black Law Students Association & Pitt Law Office of Equity & Inclusive Excellence