Dr. Morton Shares Thoughts on Juneteenth

Imagine that you and your progeny had been kidnapped from your home, imprisoned, forced into brutal labor, and systematically (and legally) stripped of your humanity for more than 400 years – simply because of the color of your skin. Now, imagine learning that you had been released from that prison-like existence two years after the judge had ordered your release – but your jailers never told you.

On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with an announcement of freedom for former slaves, two years following the Emancipation Proclamation and codified in the 13th Amendment. Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day – celebrates this emancipation which marks the day that all those who had been enslaved were finally free.

Today, African-Americans commemorate this date as our Independence Day from legalized slavery. Some descendants of formerly enslaved peoples conduct a pilgrimage back to their southern ancestral roots to commemorate the date, while others celebrate with prayer, feasting, and familial gatherings.

As we’ve seen in recent years, true freedom is measured by the degree to which we enjoy all the rights and treatments of full citizenship. The right to vote unabridged by race or color. The right to be secure in our own persons through the promotion of equal justice. The unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As we commemorate this day of Independence, let us continue to work toward true liberty and reflect on the words of Frederick Douglass, who shared that freedom is “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”.

I invite you to learn more about Juneteenth and promoting equality in justice by visiting the Oregon NAACP website, by connecting with and joining our undergraduate Black Student Union, the graduate Black Student Union at Pacific University, or by contacting the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. 

Yours always in Peace,

Dr. Pierre V.C. Morton

Monday, June 17, 2024