SWLAW Blog | Diversity

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June 18, 2021

Message from the Dean's Task Force for Equity, Inclusion and Belonging - Juneteenth

Dear Southwestern Community,

Juneteenth is a day of celebration and observation that marks the day emancipation reached enslaved people in the furthest areas of the South. It is also an important day for reflection of the experiences of Black Americans in the United States.

“Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. It celebrates a belated liberation for Black people in America and asks us to consider the promises of freedom not yet fully realized in our country.”

– The Creative Collective NYC

In 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were freed.  June 19th— or Juneteenth — was the day the last enslaved people received news of their freedom. For many years, Juneteenth has been perceived as being part of Black culture and not “American culture.” However, this week the Senate and House with bipartisan support approved a bill that will recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. President Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth National Independence Day the 12th legal public holiday. The designation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday marks the important formal integration of this day into American history. 

As it was during our nation’s founding, today there are still liberties that exist for some people but are delayed or denied for Black Americans. On this monumental day of Juneteenth, we ask that the Southwestern community reflect upon the inequities that exist for Black Americans, and to consider what actions, personally and professionally, each of us might take to ensure that we all experience equality under the law.

In observation of Juneteenth, all classes will be canceled on the Juneteenth federal holiday this year and going forward. Summer classes scheduled to meet today have been canceled.

We have included below some insightful resources for community members interested to learn more. 


The Quintessential Americanness of Juneteenth

The Fire Next Time (book) by James Baldwin

Juneteenth Article + Additional Resources – This link includes books, movies and tv shows. The documentary 13THand the series When They See Us, both on Netflix, are highly recommended.

List of Juneteenth Events happening around Los Angeles, with plenty of social distance options.

The Dean’s Task Force for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging