Juneteenth Added as an Official University Holiday

Dear Members of the USF Community,

In observance of what Juneteenth commemorates and celebrates, and in recognition of the renewed call for progress on social justice in the United States, USF has added this day as an official annual university holiday.

This year, because June 19 falls on Saturday, USF will be closed on Friday, June 18, and community members are encouraged to take time to rest, reflect, and celebrate Juneteenth.

I hope that the holiday will allow us to consider what Juneteenth memorializes: the day in 1865 when orders were read in Galveston, Texas, that previously enslaved people in Texas were free. This announcement only came at the end of the Civil War, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. In the many decades since, progress toward a truly just social order has been slow and is still incomplete. I hope that Juneteenth will afford us the time and opportunity to think about how we can actively engage in anti-racism work.

Classes scheduled for June 18: Professors will have the option to hold classes and will let students know about plans. Professors who hold classes may opt to use class time to incorporate Juneteenth-related reflections or activities, consistent with course objectives. Other professors may opt to record lectures or provide alternative material to make up course time.

Students who are scheduled to attend clinical placements, practicums, or internships on June 18 should consult with their onsite supervisor regarding whether they should attend on that day or make up the hours on a different day.

Employees whose job responsibilities or project deadlines require them to be at work on June 18 should consult with their supervisor.

I encourage you to visit myUSF to learn about the Jesuit Foundation Grant initiative, 6+YOU. The site outlines six projects that, together, create opportunities for USF to address racism, and anti-Black racism specifically; and includes links to anti-racism resources across the university. Additional information on USF’s anti-racism resources and initiatives are featured on the USF website. 

You may also want to revisit Professor Candice L. Harrison’s essay published last year in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Why Juneteenth isn’t a national holiday . . . and should be.

I know this year has been an extraordinarily busy and stressful one for our community — not only due to the pandemic and to visible assaults on human dignity in this nation and around the world but also to the intensive planning that is going into our fall return to our campuses. These and more have impacted our personal and professional lives. It is difficult to take time away from our day-to-day work. However, rest, reflection, and recharging are all vitally important, and I hope you will find time to do so on June 18.


Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.