Juneteenth: Celebrating America’s Second Independence Day
The following message from Antwan Lofton, Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer, Duke University & Duke University Health System, was delivered to staff and faculty on June 16, 2023.
On Monday, we celebrate Juneteenth, known as America’s Second Independence Day. On this day in 1865, about 250,000 enslaved Black Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas, first realized their freedom when federal troops marched into the city – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and nearly 90 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
We celebrate this Second Independence Day to recognize that freedom has not always been experienced equally by all people, and the march by federal troops that began in 1863 continues in 2023. You can see this on Duke’s campus through the Racial Equity Advisory Council and our ongoing work to promote anti-racism in every aspect of our shared experience. While we continue to make positive strides, we have more work to do to create the type of inclusive community where all feel valued and a sense of belonging, and I encourage you to play an active role in these efforts.
On Monday, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the significance of this holiday or participate in an activity that helps celebrate or honor the promise of newfound freedom.