June 16, 2022
This is my second message this week after promising not to bombard your inboxes. But it seems important to offer a little bit of reflection on our upcoming Juneteenth holiday, created just last month by Governor Polis with broad, bipartisan support.
Nearly all the holidays we recognize as a university and state commemorate developments in our nation’s history, often celebrating positive steps we take as a culture and society – marking a transition leading to a point more reflective of our nation’s values and aspirations. The 4th of July, coming up in just a couple of weeks, is a premier example – a day that celebrates the movement of our country from one of control by foreign monarchies to one of self-determination and self-governance.
Juneteenth – June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Texas learned from Union forces that they were free – was a moment exactly in that spirit, a moment that crystallized a giant step being taken by our country. It is a hallmark not only for Black Americans but for all Americans. This holiday honors the end of slavery and also recognizes that enslaved and oppressed Black Americans contributed as much as anyone to the birth, growth, and prosperity of the United States. It is also an opportunity to shine a bright light on the history of Black Americans and their leadership in the advancement of a free nation.
I want to encourage all of you to join in our community Juneteenth celebrations this weekend, with special thanks to Bridgette Johnson and Duan Ruff from our campus and their fellow planning team members who have created this inaugural local celebration. Visit www.focojuneteenth.com for more details. The step that was taken 157 years ago, just five years before Colorado State was founded, was an important one, and has been followed by other steps in the intervening decades. There are more steps needed, and part of the reason for the holiday is to pause and reflect on what steps we might take in the future, personally and collectively, to continue to strive toward fully realizing the basic human values of freedom and recognition for our efforts that are things we all share.
Professor of Mathematics, Colorado State University
Chief Academic Officer, CSU System
Incoming Interim President, CSU