From President Frank H. Wu, Chief Diversity Officer & Dean of Diversity Jerema DeWese, and Student Association President William Barron:

On June 19, 1865, approximately 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that the 250,000 slaves in that state were free by executive decree. This date came to be celebrated as “Juneteenth,” and in 2021, President Biden established it as a federal holiday. While the official end of slavery was a major milestone for this country, Black people faced a long road ahead in their fight for freedom and equality.

That fight continues until today, and many have sacrificed their lives for this cause. This year, we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Freedom Summer, when civil rights workers traveled to Mississippi to participate in a voter registration drive for Black voters. Among those who participated in the drive were Queens College student Andrew Goodman, along with James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. On June 21, 1964, just one day after arriving in Mississippi, the three activists were murdered by Ku Klux Klan members in a racially motivated attack. A massive search ensued for the missing activists. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led lectures across the region—one in QC's Colden Auditorium—calling for justice, and after 44 days their bodies were found. The legacy of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner were honored at this year’s 100th Queens College Commencement, where Presidential Medals were presented to their family members, David Goodman, Stephen A. Schwerner, and Julia Chaney-Moss, who have continued their siblings’ fight for civil rights through action and advocacy. Learn more about Andrew Goodman and QC's history of civil rights activism in this video produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing: "Heroes in Harm’s Way: Dr. King and Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner."

We must view Juneteenth as more than a “day off;” it is a time for us to reflect on what we can do to further the cause of civil rights. At Queens College, we continue to pursue our goal of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through programming such as the second annual Diversity Week that was held this past spring. The event featured daily thematic programming to explore tools and next steps necessary to address systematic injustice, inequity, and harm, and to celebrate the diversity of the QC community, as well as a culminating conference on Dismantling and Combating Hate.

On this Juneteenth, we at Queens College—an inclusive institution of higher education that supports students of every background and identity—reaffirm our enduring commitment to achieving social justice and equality.

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