June 19, 2020
Dear Staff, Students, and Faculty,
I am writing to you today, Juneteenth, to report on the ongoing and future initiatives the English Department has planned as a way to stand with and respond to the Black Lives Matter movement; to create and promote an anti-racist environment in our workplace, our classes, our department, our university, and our communities; and to contribute to the eradication of the violence and systemic inequities facing black, indigenous, and people of color members of our community, to which the #BLM movement and ongoing protests have drawn our attention in pointed and necessary ways.
This is a very long email, but please make sure to read right away at least the department section, which contains information about workshops that will be required of all Fall 2020 instructors and information about two department-wide teach-ins held remotely in the month of August.
As many of you will know, Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas. As Dr. Lacey Hunter, a lecturer in the Department of African-American and African Studies at Rutgers-Newark, explains in an interview posted yesterday on the Rutgers-Newark web site, it took two and half years for the news to travel across the territories of the United States. On this day, 155 years ago, African Americans in Texas learned “that the system of slavery had been legally abolished.”