(per James Moore III, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer for Ohio State)
“As vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, I write to you today in acknowledgment and celebration of Juneteenth, a holiday first celebrated in Texas marking the date in 1865 when enslaved Africans were read federal orders freeing them under the terms of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Known as Emancipation Day or Black Independence Day in some circles, this holiday was recognized in 2006 by the state of Ohio and is now officially observed in 47 of our 50 states.
“As a Black man who grew up in the rural South, this day serves as a reminder of how far our country has come and how many miles it still has left to travel to equality and justice. All across the United States, there is a public outcry for something greater for our society. In memory of my ancestors who had to endure so much cruelty, pain, and suffering, I only hope that our country is now ready to create a society that includes everyone.
“We all have a role to play in creating a more progressive and inclusive future for our institution. Your presence and efforts really matter. To that end, I applaud your vigilance and active participation in helping to create the ideal university community.
“As we see in the streets of cities big and small, there is a growing movement and energy around racial justice issues as new allies join us in our fight against racial inequality and anti-Blackness. A window of opportunity is opening in our country for us to overcome systemic obstacles that have long blocked advancement for Blacks and other communities of color. What was once thought to be impossible has become possible, what was once improbable now doable.
"In the coming weeks and months, we must seize this moment by speaking to people, policies, processes, and programs that shatter the status quo and lift up the voices of the disenfranchised and marginalized. It is a tall order and a noble undertaking, but it is work that we should relish doing as students, staff, faculty, leaders, and alumni.
“In closing, I hope that you find a few moments for reflection today. For those wanting to learn more about this holiday of liberation, we have an ODI Juneteenth page featuring a discussion with several university scholars as well as information about celebrations happening locally. The National Museum of African American History and Culture also has Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience event online all day today that includes lectures, discussions, folk tales, musical performances and even recipes.
“Thank you for all you do to make inclusive excellence a priority.”