Dear QU community:
Today, June 19, 2020, is Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary of Union General Gordon Granger’s General Order No. 3.
Granger issued this order shortly after his arrival in what was then the District of Texas, following the conclusion of America’s Civil War. On that day in 1865, thousands of African Americans in Texas were among the last enslaved peoples of the defeated Confederacy to learn, in Granger’s words, that “all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans in one fashion or another since its first anniversary in 1866, and Juneteenth celebrations have spread from Texas to all parts of the country. Illinois and Missouri both officially recognized Juneteenth in 2003.
Today, I encourage all Quincy University students, faculty, and staff to reflect on the meaning of Juneteenth, this second American Independence Day. On Juneteenth, the promise of the Declaration of Independence, that all “are created equal,” was given new meaning and purpose. Juneteenth – a celebration of freedom and equality, if still far from fully realized — is a celebration of distinctively American values, in which all can rejoice.
For many, including African Americans in particular, this year’s Juneteenth has special meaning, as we continue our shared, national pursuit of “absolute equality.” Together, we are called to overcome what the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis have repeatedly called the “sin of racism.” Together, we are called to be one people undivided by the evils of prejudice. For, in the words of the New Testament, “you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
May God bless America and Quincy University. May we love our neighbors as ourselves, may we live more fully the call to justice in our university mission statement, and may we always treat one another as fellow citizens of God’s household. Enjoy this Juneteenth Friday, Hawks.
Pax et Bonum,