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Reflecting on Juneteenth in 2021

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Faculty & Research, Student Life


A Message from Dean Sally Bachman, PhD:

As we approach Juneteenth, I am writing to encourage all members of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) community to set aside time and space to commemorate and contemplate the significance of the holiday on June 19th.

Juneteenth originated in 1865 when emancipation had effectively reached Galveston, Texas, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was initially issued in the United States. Juneteenth is the oldest, nationally-celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery. On June 17th, 2021, President Joe Biden established June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

This Juneteenth, we hope that our community will celebrate, critically reflect on the historical significance of this day, and also continue to think on what each of us can do to dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy. You are invited to use #SP2Juneteenth in your social media posts if you would like to share with us and others how you’re spending the day.

Below is a short list of Juneteenth events to consider for your participation:

  • Ibram X. Kendi In Conversation with Erika James: The University of Pennsylvania’s Juneteenth Event features Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning, in conversation with Erika James, Dean of The Wharton School. The event will take place virtually on June 18 at noon. Visit this link to register:
  • Juneteenth Freedom Day March: Juneteenth Philly joins with those advocating that Juneteenth become a Federal holiday. This year, there will be a march down 52nd Street to Malcolm X Park to bring awareness and support of this effort.
  • Philadelphia Juneteenth Festival: Hosted by the Johnson House Historic Site in Germantown, the annual and free Philadelphia Juneteenth Festival features a day of activities, live music, historic reenactments, and more. An annual feature of the festival is a panel discussion focused on a pressing social issue that impacts the local community. This year’s panel, Philadelphia Health Crisis: The High Rate of Gun Violence, will offer an overview, best practices, and strategies to empower and engage neighbors, increase community awareness, and address this social injustice.
  • Juneteenth Unityfest: Conceived by Grammy-nominated African-American artist Robert Randolph, Juneteenth Unityfest is a national livestream event that brings together diverse voices in a day of unity to commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth and Black culture. People of all backgrounds will have the opportunity to learn about Juneteenth and its legacy via musical performances, films, comedy, storytelling, and appearances by civic leaders and influencers. Juneteenth Unityfest is also a national platform for a coalition of charitable and grassroots organizations to gain attention and support for their work in advancing national unity. More information can be found at

We hope you are able to make the most of this day and join us in acknowledging the past and what it means to each of us in our collective efforts toward a more equitable future.