The Importance of Juneteenth
June 16, 2022
Over the last two years, I have shared with you reflections on the significance of Juneteenth—an annual holiday celebrated for more than 150 years by the Black community to commemorate and celebrate the end of enslavement in the United States.
Last year, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act which made Juneteenth a federal holiday (the act had been passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and by a 415-14 margin in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 16, 2021).
This year, Andrews University has added Juneteenth as a formal holiday for our University, and as we approach this year’s celebration of the Juneteenth holiday on Monday, June 20, 2022, I wanted to once again share a few reflections on the significance of this new national holiday to our Andrews University community.
As we recognize Juneteenth as a formal holiday for our University, I want to reiterate our commitment that Andrews University stands in opposition to racism and remains fully committed to taking measurable steps toward an ethic of consistent and equitable love, compassion and justice. This is a commitment that needs to be understood and renewed by each one of us—and it means that we will always view and treat each other as God’s children, as true brothers and sisters who are ultimately and unquestionably worthy of respect, protection and care.
These things are at the heart of our Andrews University mission statement and particularly its summary, “Seek Knowledge, Affirm Faith, Change the World.” If this mission matters, then what we do as individuals and a University should follow what God says—we should reason together, even wrestle with the complexity of different challenges and different perspectives together.
Andrews University’s commitment to biblically driven knowledge and understanding is behind our ongoing pledge to clearly stand against racism and hatred, to commit to being an anti-racist institution.
Let me share once again Andrews University’s institutional commitments to being truly anti-racist.
- We will only be satisfied when Andrews University is a safe place for all, and we will keep working until we ultimately reach that end.
- We commit to educating our Andrews University community on how to recognize their own unconscious bias and how to listen openly to others.
- We will inspire our Andrews University graduates, our World Changers, to passionately model justice and equity in their own dealings and lead others with integrity, using power to uplift and inspire hope.
In total, we are fully committed to becoming a truly anti-racist institution. We are committed to seek a world influenced by God’s kingdom, a world where humility, compassion and care are central.
I truly believe that we are a University that recognizes and seeks to consistently pursue the God-informed possibility of inspiring World Changers. As a result, I believe that each one of us can and will articulate and pursue a path of hope and positive change for our entire world, a purpose clearly defined by our mission and lived out in each one of our lives.
That is a mission consistent with Juneteenth as well—which we will honor and celebrate this Monday. Juneteenth, I believe, reminds us that the promise of freedom is a promise consistently offered and found in God’s kingdom itself.
May God bless our continued journey together as we seek to impact a world that so desperately needs our faithful witness and which will be changed by pursuing God’s answers of equity, love, compassion and justice, now more than ever.