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June 19, 2022

Raised Fist for Juneteenth

June 19, or Juneteenth, is recognized as the oldest celebration acknowledging the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Gen. Gordon Granger, leading a company of about 2,000 Union soldiers, read General Order No. 3 to the citizens of Galveston, Texas.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Dr. Marc Goulding, assistant professor of history and director of UCO’s Race and Ethnic Studies minor, points out that while the Emancipation Proclamation has been hailed as the document that ended slavery in America, in truth, it was only the important first step in a longer process.

“The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865,” Goulding said. “The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states in rebellion — places over which Lincoln had no authority at the time.”

It was not until two months after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and two years after Lincoln’s famous document that word reached Texas, the westernmost slave state.

Today, the University of Central Oklahoma and the College of Liberal Arts recognize and encourage our community to celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

We recognize that there is still much work to be done, however.

“Being Black is tiring. It is having to be the student and the teacher,” said Micah Wilson, Professional Media student and president of the UCO Association of Black Journalists. “Teacher to both our peers and teachers on Black culture. For me, many times in class I am being asked to be the voice on all Black people. Having to constantly teach/educate peers and professors on Black issues, hair, culture, etc. We can never just be a student.”

“There are countless issues regarding race that UCO can fix,” Wilson said. “I will say that we are somewhat dedicated to improvement. However, we need non-people of color to want better for Black Americans and people of color. They have to want to be educated and attempt to make sure they are knowledgeable about different cultures and customs.”

“We have two separate campuses that coexist with each other. Non-people of color rarely come to organizations of color events and often Black people and people of color don’t feel invited to their events. I believe this is something the university can push for, however, it is on the student body to enact this change. We should educate people on the “Black experience” or Black culture. It should be a part of the curriculum, we have events that showcase and teach these things. We need allies to come, willing and able to listen.”

The College of Liberal Arts agrees with Micah and we are thankful for his leadership and the opportunity to learn with him and from him. We invite the UCO community-at-large to learn more about Juneteenth and we join UCO’s Office of People and Culture in recommending the following resources to provide more information about the day and its significance: