University’s Observance of Juneteenth on June 19
A Message to the University Community from President Tony Allen and Board Chairwoman Devona Williams:
General Order #3 — District of Texas — June 19, 1865
“The people of Texas 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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection, therefore, existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
Thus, 155 years ago, began the tradition of Juneteenth, which is the observance of the freeing of the last enslaved Africans in the United States of America. It is a long-standing American tradition to recognize national holidays honoring those who sacrificed and often died for a country built on a rhetorical notion that all are created equal and “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” It is past time that Juneteenth be given similar reverence in our country’s history.
Before June 19, 1865, is a long history of kidnapping, imprisonment, enslavement, torture, forced labor, and death that runs contrary to our nation’s highest ideals. The road from Juneteenth to present day has still not reached those ideals for all Americans. From Black Codes and KKK Night Riders through Jim Crow, the Red Summer, and lynchings; down to redlining, educational inequities, and all other forms of systemic racism, black people have been engaged in constant, clearly American struggles for societal rights and dignity.
Juneteenth was symbolic in its moment and is celebrated in many corners of the country today, but that’s not enough. As a result, we have determined that from this day forward, Juneteenth (June 19) shall be a paid holiday of remembrance and celebration at Delaware State University.
As you plan how you and your families will spend this day, consider participating in some of the public and community activities in the area, and/or taking a moment of education on any number of public sources.
American history is compelling in its complexity, but without a thoughtful and regular review, her most outstanding achievements will seem easily won, and her most significant failings will forever haunt us. In either case, silence is not an option.
Visit the Delaware Juneteenth Association web page for a full list of activities in and around Delaware adapted for the current COVID-19 environment.
Dr. Donna Patterson, Chairperson of the Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy, will join Governor John Carney this Friday for a digital fireside chat about the significance of Juneteenth. We will communicate a schedule and link as soon as the Governor’s Office provides it.
Just Mercy—This powerful true story follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his battle for justice as he defends a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence.
I Am Not Your Negro—Director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House, a journey into Black history connecting the Civil Rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter, while questioning Black representation in Hollywood and beyond.
Selma—The film is an award-winning dramatization of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and one of the watershed national moments in the early Civil Rights movement.
Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution—The film revisits the turbulent 1960s, when a new revolutionary culture emerged with the Black Panther Party as the vanguard.
Ken Burns: The Central Park Five—In 1989, five Black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. The Central Park Five tells the story of that horrific rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, as well as the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.
TV in Black: The First Fifty Years—The Black image on television changed American culture. This two-hour program includes rare footage, memorabilia, photos, and exclusive interviews from the actors, writers, and producers whose personal journeys shaped television history.
The Help—The film is an award-winning movie adaptation of a groundbreaking novel about 1960s Mississippi at the outset of the civil rights movement.
LA 92—Stark footage traces decades of police brutality and public uprising leading up to the 1992 acquittal of four LAPD officers filmed beating Rodney King.
Audiobooks that are a “Must Listen”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me—a powerful personal statement by one of America’s leading Black commentators and literary voices.
Cornel West, The Radical King—for the first time, dramatic interpretations of Dr. King’s words.
Matthew Horace (DSU ’86) and Ron Harris, The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement—containing one of the most in-depth examinations of events preceding and after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism—a highly acclaimed and award-winning book that is literally rewriting Black and American history prior to the Civil War.