Celebrating Juneteenth

Last week, I was honored to join others here at Pacific University in raising the Juneteenth flag on our Forest Grove Campus in recognition of today’s holiday.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the date that the last enslaved people of America learned of their freedom, more than two years after the signing the Emancipation Proclamation. The date has long been celebrated by African American communities, but it didn’t become a federal holiday until 2021. Pacific first formally observed Juneteenth in 2020.

Sometimes called Freedom Day or America’s second Independence Day, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. While there is no one official way to mark this day, some spend time reflecting and rejoicing, while others may look at it as a time for planning for the future.

Nationwide, it is a way that we can honestly acknowledge our history — and recognize that the legacy of slavery has left a lasting impact on our society that we continue working to dismantle today.

Commentator Angela Rye has said, “Whether it’s freedom to express, freedom to live, freedom to earn, freedom to thrive, freedom to learn, whatever it is, I want to make sure that I’m a part of these spaces and opening doors.”

At Pacific, we celebrate that our Boxer community is a found family filled with people from every background and walk of life. We honor the unique voices and lived experiences of each member of this family. And we commit to the ongoing work of self-reflection, listening, learning and action necessary to continue making sure Pacific — and our surrounding society — practices those values every day.

The Juneteenth flag will fly over Pacific through the week, but we will continue to celebrate — and work for — freedom of every kind perpetually.

My best — and Happy Juneteenth,

Jenny Coyle ’90, OD ’93, MS ‘00


Monday, June 19, 2023