NABJ Berkeley Chapter’s Ande Richards and Dean Anand on Celebrating Juneteenth

June 18, 2021

Photo: Ande Richards (’22)

Dear Berkeley Journalism Community,

I write together with our NABJ chapter president Ande Richards to celebrate Juneteenth. At this historic moment, our national leaders have taken steps to make this day that marks the end of slavery a national holiday. These efforts have been recognized by our campus leadership, and UC President Drake has announced that Juneteenth is now an official UC holiday, to be observed this year on Monday, June 28. As Ande just said to me, “Our collective efforts are paying off. Here’s to progress!”

In solidarity,

Geeta Anand
Dean and Professor
Robert A. Peck Chair

Dear Berkeley Journalism Community,

It’s official. Juneteenth is now a national holiday. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the historic bill making it the first federal holiday to be established in 38 years. That was when President Ronald Reagan instituted Martin Luther King Day in 1983.

June 19 is a significant date because it marks the end of slavery in the United States. Sadly, the magnitude of this critical moment in our history is unknown to many Americans.

Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people in the Confederate South became effective on Jan. 1, 1863, many slave owners ignored the order. Finally, two years later, President Lincoln dispatched Union troops to enforce the new law in holdout states. Texas was last to conform to the new federal mandate. When the news of emancipation came to Galveston, the formerly enslaved population celebrated on June 19, 1865. And so, the tradition began.

Ande Richards

Celebrations for Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day, spread as Black people migrated from the South to other parts of the country. While ways to commemorate the day evolved, from family affairs to elaborate events with hundreds of participants, the essential spirit of Juneteenth still resonates with many in the Black community.

Last year we bore witness to the murder of George Floyd and learned of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others at the hands of people who did not consider their rights as free citizens of this nation. The civil unrest that followed these deplorable incidents made the substance of Juneteenth and the true meaning of emancipation more poignant.

We encourage journalists from all backgrounds to learn more about Juneteenth and to explore other untold stories in our country’s history so we can be effective watchdogs for society.

June 19 is a day to celebrate the joy of emancipation. In the days that follow, take time to educate yourself about the past and inspire those around you to create a more equitable present.

Yours in solidarity and celebration,

Ande Richards
NABJ UC Berkeley

 

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