Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Juneteenth: Honoring Freedom and Celebrating African American Heritage

Jun 19, 2023


uneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a significant holiday in the United States that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It holds a deep historical and cultural significance, representing both the end of slavery and the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. Juneteenth serves as a poignant reminder of the progress made towards racial equality while acknowledging the continued work that lies ahead.

The origins of Juneteenth can be traced back to June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery. This proclamation, known as General Order No. 3, declared that all enslaved people in Texas were free, marking a critical milestone in the fight against slavery. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation being issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the abolition of slavery did not reach the remote regions of the Confederacy i. It was not until two and a half years later that the news of freedom finally arrived in Texas. 

In recent years, Juneteenth has gained increased recognition and observance across the United States. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, officially designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday. This historic decision acknowledges the importance of Juneteenth in American history.

In the Department of Pathology, Juneteenth is honored with an Equality Walk, in which members of the department walk in unity around the North Campus Research Complex and kneel to remember those who have been killed due to racial injustice. Video and social media posts share this activity with people around the world, as just one aspect of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Michigan Medicine’s Department of Pathology.  Dr. Angela Wu, DEI lead for the department and lead for the Pathology Anti-racism Task Force, stated “ This year we had 78 participants in our Walk. It is both heartening and humbling to see so many from our department join us for the Equality Walk and share in our commitment to racial equality and justice.”