Message from the Chancellor – Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Today, June 19, is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, word of his action did not reach Texas until 1865. The name Juneteenth comes from June 19, 1865, representing the moment the last group of enslaved Black people in Texas learned of their freedom. Since its beginning in Galveston in 1865, Juneteenth has been marked as a day of celebration and reflection.

Now in 2020, this important commemorative day is occurring during a time of great resistance – including an outpouring of support for the Black community and others that is magnifying systemic failures in our nation that must be addressed in order for true equality to be achieved.

I encourage all members of our UIS community to spend time today understanding the importance of Juneteenth to our Black students, colleagues and friends. Our Diversity Center’s website is an excellent starting place to learn more and provides practical ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement, including recommendations for videos, books and action groups.

As your Chancellor, I stand firm with the Black community and stand against the long history and ideology of systemic racism. I ask that you join me today in recommitting to the fight for justice and equity so that our university can truly live its mission to prepare all graduates to contribute fully to society.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Koch