Thursday, June 17, 2021

Dear UNT Community, 

On June 19, 1865, thousands of enslaved Texans were freed when Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to announce General Order No. 3, ending slavery in Texas. The announcement came more than two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and was known as Freedom Day. As Black Americans celebrated their freedom and explored opportunities, they also hosted annual celebrations to commemorate the date, now known as Juneteenth. 

This year, I encourage you to take time this Saturday to reflect on the heritage of Black Americans and consider what you can do to foster a legacy of inclusion for all Black lives. Both in our personal lives and as members of the UNT Family, we can make a conscious decision to listen more, judge less, include others, advocate boldly, and work to eradicate racism. Let's challenge ourselves to take part in racial and social justice work that leads to a more just and equitable world. 

If you are seeking to expand your knowledge about Juneteenth, consider watching The Social and Economic Value of Juneteenth webinar featuring keynote speaker Curtis Faulkner, presented by the UNT Frisco Diversity and Inclusion Council and UNT's Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity. You also may choose to participate in the City of Denton's annual Juneteenth celebration tomorrow and Saturday at Fred Moore Park. 

Juneteenth is a day to honor Black history and culture, but it should not be the only day on which we reflect on the past. We must all be committed to working together and moving forward to make UNT a caring and inclusive place to learn and work where everyone can thrive. 

UNT Proud,

Neal Smatresk