Announcing Juneteenth as a University Holiday

June 18, 2020

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:

I write to share with you that our Georgetown University community, on Friday, will observe Juneteenth—June 19, 2020—as an official University holiday this year, and annually.

Many, from across our community, have expressed the importance of honoring Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated across our nation that commemorates June 19, 1865 as the end of the enslavement of people of African descent in the United States. I wish to express my gratitude to our colleagues who brought forth this idea, and to the many colleagues across our community who have brought new urgency to our efforts to build a more inclusive community and to provide a context that supports the flourishing of our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

In honoring this day, we honor the millions of African people who were dehumanized and lost their lives during enslavement. We recognize the incalculable toll of the institution of enslavement of people of African descent all over the world. We celebrate the idea of freedom—and all those who fought against enslavement to achieve it.

We have an opportunity in this moment to examine and reflect on the ways that our work must continue to address the legacies of enslavement and segregation still present in our day—in education, healthcare, housing, economic prosperity, and in policing and our legal system. We do so in recognition of our institution’s historical involvement in enslavement and our ongoing work to engage with our past. We proceed, as a University community, in recognition of the work that remains for us—as a community and as a nation—to achieve the full promise of freedom.

In recent years, as part of our ongoing efforts, our University has commemorated the end of enslavement in the District of Columbia by hosting a series of events in recognition of D.C. Emancipation Day each April 16, and, on Friday, as we expand our efforts, we will share additional resources to honor Juneteenth in Washington, D.C.

Colleagues in Human Resources and our Registrar’s Office, in collaboration with program directors, will be following up with specific information for our employees and will provide assistance with any potential impact this may have on previously scheduled classes.

As we confront the challenges of this moment, I hope that this day will be a moment for reflection and renewed commitment to the work of racial justice.


John J. DeGioia