A Message from the President

June 18, 2020


Celebrating Juneteenth & Reflecting on Our History

Tomorrow, June 19, 2020, is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It is an important recognition of the African American experience, reminding us all of our nation’s struggles and triumphs with racial oppression and discrimination. In a time when people around the world are crying out for justice, celebrating Juneteenth is even more important as we show solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement and take a stand against systematic racism.

Beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, I am granting administrative leave in observance of Juneteenth for all faculty and staff, who are scheduled to work. All classes will be cancelled during that time.   

Juneteenth commemorates the moment on June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, received news that they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation – two and a half years after it took effect. Long denied the rights and privileges of American citizenship, African Americans began celebrating Juneteenth in Texas the next year to remember the day when they got their freedom.

That same spirit of hope and promise existed in the newly freed African Americans in Maryland, who attended a school in Baltimore that would later become Bowie State University. Housed in the African Baptist Church on the corner of Calvert and Saratoga streets, that school was founded on January 9, 1865, with a mission to educate African American citizens after the state had failed to do so. More than 150 years later, Bowie State University remains steadfast in ensuring that quality higher education is accessible to all, advancing public education for the public good.

The struggle to ensure that education remains accessible continues today. Now more than ever, we must stay vigilant in sustaining the human rights for the descendants of enslaved African Americans and eradicating the vestiges of slavery that are still prevalent in our country.

Knowing our history is important. One way to recognize Juneteenth this year and every year is by taking time out reflecting on that history. Another way is by exercising your full citizenship rights through the power of your vote. In an election year when so much is at stake for the future of our nation, we must continue to do what we can to ensure we take full advantage of our right to vote. As we commemorate Juneteenth, I also encourage the Bowie State University community to find other ways to build and enrich our communities.