Dear Members of the Campus Community,
This week culminates in Juneteenth—a day commemorating the freedom of African Americans, which has been celebrated by some but not all people and U.S. states since 1865.
June 19th became recognized as a holiday in Washington state in 2007, but it wasn’t until just last month that Gov. Inslee signed it into law as an official state holiday beginning in 2022. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Melanie Morgan of Parkland, just down the road from us here at Puget Sound, and reminds us, yet again, of the power and influence we have as citizens and members of our communities to shape a society that has at its core a commitment to equity and justice. Going forward and in consultation with our faculty leadership about the impact on summer term, I would like to see Juneteenth become a fully programmed and paid holiday at Puget Sound beginning in 2022, with opportunities for students, faculty and staff members to learn together and to strengthen our ability to address the vital and difficult work before us all.
Good intentions are critically important, but action is what is needed to transform our intentions into policies that serve the public good. Rep. Morgan used her voice to make a difference. Over the past year, in particular, students, faculty and staff members have done likewise, making or amplifying calls for our campus to be more inclusive, more welcoming, more equitable and more aware of how deeply our culture is shaped by racism, particularly anti-Black racism.
We don’t always agree on the path forward, whether it’s discussing the most effective way to engage the entire community to eliminate bias, or meeting the demands issued by the Multi-Identity Based Union in a sustainable way, or engaging one another in dialogue that affirms our intentions, meets others where they are, and moves us toward change. But we are moving. I see it every day, in the good and important and necessary work taking place across departments and divisions; in a constellation of new programs, organizations and training opportunities on campus; and in the passion with which we express our hopes and bring to fruition our ideas for an enriched and more inclusive Puget Sound.
I invite us all to take time to reflect and consider how we are personally called to act to eliminate racism. In addition to the critically important work taking place across campus—including that of the Race and Pedagogy Institute, African American Studies, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Affairs, Collins Memorial Library (see below), Human Resources, Career and Employment Services, ASUPS and many other individuals, organizations and departments—you may wish to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more through the following resources and activities:
- Collins Memorial Library Special Collections
The Collins Library Reading Room will host members of the campus community on Thursday, June 17, noon–1 p.m., to review artists' books, broadsides, and zines from Special Collections that focus on themes of social justice. These unique collections have been part of a learning experience for students in Education 629: Engaging Teaching Dilemmas to Foster Culturally Responsive Practice taught by Professors Fred Hamel, Amy Ryken and Audrey Wilson.
- Learning About Juneteenth
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Northwest African American Museum (Seattle) Virtual Juneteenth Events
- Tacoma Public Library Events
Changing a culture is the work of generations, and we must do the work that only our generation can do to bring racism to an end. We are strongest and most effective when we work together, and leverage the insights, wisdom and experiences of every member of our community. As we celebrate Juneteenth, we also celebrate the power and potential of this community to make real and lasting change.
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President