Juneteenth: A new national holiday

Dear Western Community,

On Monday, June 20, Western will be closed in observance of the Juneteenth national holiday.  Black communities have recognized and celebrated Juneteenth for more than 100 years, and in 2021, the federal government began recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday.  Also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Second Independence Day, Juneteenth commemorates and celebrates Black liberation.

More than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and almost two months after the surrender of the Confederacy which ended the Civil War, enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas were finally notified that they were free on June 19, 1865.  Since the holiday falls on a Sunday this year, it will be nationally observed on Monday.

This Friday, June 17 at 11:30 a.m., we will raise the Juneteenth flag on Western’s flag plaza and commemorate the day with fellowship and food.  Other area events include the free Bellingham Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 18 in Maritime Heritage Park, and the NAACP of Snohomish County Juneteenth Community Celebration at Willis D. Tucker Park in Snohomish also on Saturday.

Juneteenth is a day for celebrating Black liberation and Black excellence and recommitting ourselves to working for a society in which all people are truly free.  As one of many ways to take action, I invite you to join me in contributing to the Dr. Renee P. Collins Memorial Scholarship for Black Women or the Western Stands for Racial Equity Fund.

Here are a few other resources for celebration and learning:

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture offers a wealth of information about the history and significance of Juneteenth. Start here:

The NAACP shares information about Juneteenth and ways to take action for racial justice: https://naacp.org/campaigns/juneteenth.

Get out to a state park! Juneteenth has been designated as a “Discover Pass free day”, so on Sunday, June 19th you can visit Washington state parks and recreation lands for free.

Those looking for book choices, including books for kids, may find the following curated lists helpful:



Read more about funds that impact Black WWU students here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 9:39am
The Juneteenth flag flies below Western's flag, with the Washington state and American flags in the background at Western's Flag Pavilion on a sunny day.

The Juneteenth flag flies below Western's flag in June 2021.