| by Laurie Patton and Renee Wells
Dear Middlebury Community,
Today is the Juneteenth holiday—an observance of freedom and memory marking the emancipation by the Union Army of the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas in 1865. While many Americans have observed it in the past, its emergence on the federal calendar should remind us that the legacies of bondage and slavery are not new to us—in our country, or at Middlebury.
As we mark the first anniversary of the national commemoration of Juneteenth, we invite members of our community to reflect on the many things this federal holiday reminds us are still in tension.
Juneteenth is a day Black people across the country come together to celebrate community. We honor and affirm the Black residents of Buffalo who gathered over the weekend—despite fears that doing so would once again make them targets—and showed that Black community and celebration are profound acts of joy and resistance.
We mark this anniversary with a commitment to further our efforts to address interpersonal and institutional racism within our own community, and to be accountable for ensuring that work gets done.
Wherever you are this summer season, please take some time today, and this week, to reflect on our histories, the forms of systemic racism that have shaped and continue to shape us, and the ways we can undo the legacies of oppression in the lives of Black Americans. Together we can imagine and continue to build more just communities in all the places where we live, work, and study.
Assistant Vice President of Education for Equity and Inclusion