Juneteenth commemorates the day when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they were finally freed after the Civil War ended. They were the last to hear this news. That day, June 19, 1865, was more than two months after the end of the war and two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Neumann University Community,
Juneteenth has unique cultural and historical significance for all Americans, especially African Americans. This day of Freedom represents the triumph of Emancipation and leads us to reflection. All Americans are called to realize the evil of racism, institutional and personal, and to dismantle inequalities in all its forms.
As many States and communities move to make Juneteenth a holiday, we here at Neumann University are called to make this day a time for prayer, reflection, and action.
We need to acknowledge the progress we have made as a University, especially through the successful lives of our African American alumni who are serving in positions of leadership, making a positive difference in our world, and living the RISES values. At the same time, we still have work to do as a community.
We all know that our RISES values are our constant call to “live the truth in love.” However, they cannot be simply nice words that we place on banners. RISES values are meant to be lived. May we use these values, which we hold so dear, to remind us that we are all made in the image and likeness of God and have equal dignity. Pope Francis reminds us that, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form...and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
Our Franciscan tradition is anchored in Jesus’ example of radical love and forgiveness. May His example give us the faith and true freedom to lead and treat each person as a sister and brother of our Good and Gracious God!
I invite you to join in prayer, reflection, and action. Our chaplain, Father Suresh Raj, will offer a Mass for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation to unite our community in prayer.
May we continue to pray to our patron St. Francis of Assisi, to be Instruments of Peace.
With peace and hope,
Dr. Chris Domes