Honoring Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

I am pleased to announce that, starting next year, Juneteenth, the annual celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, will be a paid University holiday. Juneteenth is an inflection point in our nation’s history and the ongoing struggle to build a more perfect Union. Yet, as Richmond leadership studies professor Julian Hayter notes, too many Americans are unaware of the monumental significance of Juneteenth — and it is often seen as nothing more than an “addendum to American history.” I believe Juneteenth’s persistent omission stems from our nation’s failure to fully examine and psychologically grapple with the aftermath of slavery, segregation, lynching, and ongoing systemic disparities. I hope that by making Juneteenth a University holiday, all of us will take time to reflect on the painful and profound legacies of slavery, to recognize the resilience of African Americans in the face of centuries of injustice, and to contemplate how we can all do more to advance justice and equality. As a starting point, consider visiting the Juneteenth webpage of Bunk History, curated by UR students for the New American History project based at the University.

In a message to our alumni today, I offered a personal reflection on anti-black racism in America, some of which you heard during recent community Zoom conversations. But it also lifts up the stories of fellow Spiders who are helping show the way forward. I hope their stories inspire you as much as they have inspired me for the work that lies ahead of us. We have made significant progress building a more inclusive and welcoming Richmond, but we know we have more to do. This moment calls on us to be resilient stewards of Richmond’s shared values, and in the coming year we will strengthen our efforts to make UR an anti-racist community. I am so proud of everyone in our community who is speaking out to illuminate and inspire this moment. And I am so grateful for everything you have done — and will continue to do — to help us live up to our promise as an inclusive intercultural community.

Happy Juneteenth!


Ronald A. Crutcher