A few moments ago, President Joseph Biden signed into law the first new Federal Holiday since 1983. The new holiday commemorates and celebrates the day that the last slaves were set free in the United States, June 19, 1865, a day known as Juneteenth. The law goes into effect immediately, making Friday the first federal Juneteenth holiday in American history.
In order to honor the significance of this holiday, and as a thank you to all of our employees who have worked so hard during the past year and a half, tomorrow will be an official holiday for Whittier College employees.
As President Biden said earlier today while signing the new law:
“…all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history, and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come but also the distance we have to travel.”
Above my desk are framed replicas of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment that were given to me as a gift from my husband when I was named as President of Whittier College. It is a reminder of where I come from, and a constant motivator that drives my vision of equity and inclusion for Whittier College.
A national holiday does not salve all of our wounds, or solve all of our problems, but it is another small, but symbolic step forward. It is a new kind of independence day that everyone in this nation can take pride in celebrating the ideal of true equality for all.
Enjoy and celebrate this Juneteenth!
Linda S. Oubré, Ed.D. M.B.A.
President and Professor of Business Administration