Juneteenth Is Now a University Holiday

The holiday “offers a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the promise of a new beginning,” University president Larry Bacow wrote. 

Harvard Yard
Photograph by Mancala/Wikipedia

Harvard will be closed on Juneteenth—the holiday celebrated on June 19 marking the day in 1865 that enslaved African Americans in Texas were told that they were free—University president Lawrence Bacow announced in an email on Tuesday. 

“All faculty and staff will have a full day of paid time off,” he wrote. “If you must work that day to support essential operations, your efforts will be acknowledged with other paid time off.” 

Juneteenth “offers a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the promise of a new beginning, and I cannot imagine a better year for Harvard to begin recognizing its significance,” he continued. “These are extraordinary times distinguished by extraordinary displays of passion and resolve. We are everywhere reminded of the possibility of something different—something better—for our communities, our states, and our nation, as well as the deep reflection and hard work getting there will require of all of us.” The message echoed an earlier email Bacow sent to the Harvard community in the first week of mass protests against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd. 

The holiday has become recognized by an increasing number of governments and institutions in the last several years, and especially this year, many corporations and universities have designated it a paid day off. 

Read more articles by: Marina N. Bolotnikova
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