Juneteenth: A Community Message | New England College

Juneteenth: A Community Message

June 18, 2024
Graphic for Juneteeth, referred to by some as America's second independence day

Dear New England College Community,

For far too long our nation did not appropriately recognize what many have come to refer to as our second independence day—Juneteenth. Today, on June 19th, we acknowledge an event as important for the African American community as Independence Day is for all Americans. This overlooked but important moment in American history is worth recounting.

On June 19, we remember the message of General Gordon Granger who on June 19th, 1865, arrived in the port of Galveston, Texas. General Granger had been dispatched to Texas to share the good news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. You see, despite the passing of three years since that 1862 Proclamation in Gettysburg, thousands of Texans, including former slaves, had yet to be informed of their freedom.

Granger, ever the military man, delivered the good news in clear terms when he said,

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

He went on to explain what this announcement meant for what must have been an incredibly surprised and jubilant crowd. Granger continued,

“This [emancipation] involved an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

At New England College, we join Americans across our nation in recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday. I encourage you all to enjoy this day and give thought to the holiday’s place in our calendar of liberty in the United States. While certainly there is more to do to realize our founders’ vision, it is important to mark our progress through recognizing important dates like today.

Happy Juneteenth, everyone!

All the best,

Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance Jr.
New England College

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