Commemorating Juneteenth

Dear ICD community:

We pause today to celebrate Juneteenth. On this day (June 19) in 1865, the news of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War reached Galveston, Texas, the final outpost to learn that the Civil War had ended and enslaved people were free. Known as “America’s second Independence Day,” Juneteenth occurred more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is part of a long tradition of Freedom Day celebrations in the U.S., commemorating significant events in African American history. 

We also pause today to acknowledge that systemic and institutionalized racism has harmed and continues to harm the Black community. We recognize the unjust burden these systems have placed on our Black students, staff, and faculty, their families, and their communities. Today, we honor you and stand with you, and pledge to advocate alongside you for anti-racist policies, practices, and reforms.

We know that change starts with us and that advocacy is defined by action. As we reflect on the history of Juneteenth, we re-emphasize our commitment to examining our role in perpetuating systemic racism, to increasing equity and diversity in our department, and to creating a more inclusive climate for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and other groups who have been historically marginalized.

Most importantly, we commit to taking concrete steps to meet these goals and to strive for transparency as we work to achieve them. Our faculty are meeting bi-weekly this summer to discuss diversity and equity issues and to address specific recommendations put forth by PhD students and post-doctoral fellows. Thank you to our students, staff, and faculty for your dedication to this important work. 

We are humbled to be a part of this community. As we celebrate Juneteenth, we ask that you also join us in continuing to build a better future for our department, university, city, and nation. 


Megan Gunnar
Outgoing Director

Kathleen Thomas
Incoming Director