Celebrating Juneteenth

June 18, 2021

Dear Members of the University of Richmond Community,

Today is an important day for our University, state, and country. For the first time in our history, we are recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday.

Juneteenth is the annual celebration of the end of slavery, yet for too long most Americans were unaware of its monumental significance, including myself. While I had heard of Juneteenth, I did not truly understand it until I was nearly 50 years old. At the time, I was serving as director of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Governor invited Betty and me to a Juneteenth celebration at his home. I was amazed to discover that even though President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, enslaved people in Texas did not receive news of their freedom for another two and a half years. From that experience, I learned that Juneteenth is just as important as July 4th to so many in the African American community. Betty and I have been proud to celebrate Juneteenth ever since.

My own Juneteenth learning experience underscores that — in many ways — Black history is still not recognized as an essential part of American history. That is why this Juneteenth I encourage all Spiders to pause and learn more about this important holiday. Consider joining one of the many wonderful celebrations taking place in our city and state, from the Juneteenth Jackson Ward Neighborhood Clean Up to Henrico County’s Juneteenth Celebration to the Elegba Folklore Society’s Juneteenth, A Freedom Celebration. As I believe my own experience also demonstrates, it is never too late to begin a new lifelong journey of discovery. What is important is that each of us makes a lasting commitment to grow personally and contribute to the ongoing work of forming a more perfect union.

Happy Juneteenth!


Ronald A. Crutcher