On June 18, Northeastern Illinois University President Gloria J. Gibson issued a statement announcing the University will officially add Juneteenth to the University’s holiday schedule for the next academic year. This announcement followed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and President Joe Biden signing laws declaring Juneteenth an official state and federal holiday.
Though President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, declaring that as of Jan. 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the United States were free, some states continued to practice slavery and all slaves weren’t officially released until 1866.
Juneteeth, a word that derives from the month of June and the 19th day, commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed Black slaves that the Civil War had ended and they were free. It is often observed with readings of the Emancipation Proclamation and celebrations featuring African-American spoken word and song.
“Over the years, this celebration has often been eclipsed by the continued struggle of Black Americans to exist in this country with true liberty, equality and justice for all,” Gibson said. “I encourage the Northeastern community to use the Juneteenth holiday as an opportunity to celebrate and to educate yourself and others about the many contributions African Americans have made worldwide.”
Northeastern will first observe Juneteenth on Monday, June 20, 2022, as the official holiday falls on a Sunday. All University offices will be closed and any classes scheduled for that day will be cancelled. More details about how the University will further celebrate Juneteenth will be announced at a later date.