UK Reflects on Meaning of Juneteenth Ahead of 1st Academic Holiday

In January 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, declaring more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free, unbeknownst to many of those enslaved. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, more than two years later, on June 19, 1865, that the last enslaved U.S. populations were informed of the proclamation. 

Today, we celebrate that day and the liberation of the slaves. Known as Juneteenth, a blend of the words June and nineteenth, this day has been recognized by Black communities for decades, however, this year will mark the first year that the University of Kentucky will acknowledge Juneteenth as an academic holiday. 

President Eli Capilouto announced this monumental change in the academic calendar last June, along with a slew of other initiatives surrounding diversity efforts at the university.

“I hope it will become a moment to pause, to reflect, to serve and a time that compels our community to act,” Capilouto said in last year’s announcement. “With this action, I hope we are stating as a board and as a university our unequivocal commitment to this cause.”

Carlie Laughlin

Carlie Laughlin is a Faculty Programs Coordinator with the Office of Sustainability. She is also a graduate student pursuing her degree in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

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