A Juneteenth Message From the President

A Juneteenth Message From the President

Photo of Mark R. Nemec, PhD

Dr. Nemec shares some reflections on the importance of honoring June 19 as an annual University holiday.

Dear Members of the Fairfield University Community,

Today, June 19th, has been recognized as one of our country’s oldest commemorations of the ending of slavery in the United States. I trust that all members of our Fairfield University community will take time today to reflect on the date’s historical significance, as well as its meaning for the current and future state of race relations in our nation.

My own reflections have led me to realize the importance of marking this day as a holiday henceforth. Today, I am writing to share with you that I have directed the provost and our vice president of Human Resources to work through the appropriate governance and administrative channels to insure that Fairfield University will honor June 19 — Juneteenth — as an annual University holiday.

At this time, our nation is in a period of deep contemplation on the enduring pain and injustice that are the result of the enslavement of people in the United States. We in the Fairfield University community are also engaged in this examination.

It was on June 19,1865 that Union Army General Gordon Granger read federal orders to the people of Galveston, Texas, proclaiming that all enslaved persons in the U.S. State of Texas were free. The date has grown in significance over the ensuing years.

Going forward, June 19th will be a day where we take the opportunity to step away from our work duties and studies to honor, in our own way, the suffering and the contributions of our neighbors, friends, and forebears of African descent, and also to celebrate the ongoing work of emancipation in which we must be continually engaged.

In honoring this day, we acknowledge not only the history of slavery in our country, but we do so with an eye to how the underlying web of prejudice and cruelty that supported it, continues to operate in our culture today, consciously and unconsciously influencing how people of African descent are seen, treated, and valued. On this day we will also renew our commitment to build a more inclusive University community, and to provide resources and a culture of understanding to support our black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

As a Jesuit and Catholic university, “the service of faith and the promotion of justice” is integral to our mission, and it is my hope that this day will offer an opportunity for us to see that our faith and our commitment to racial justice and reconciliation are inseparable.


Mark R. Nemec, PhD


Professor of Politics

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