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We are pleased to observe Juneteenth this year for the first time as a federal and UW holiday. As part of our work at UW Medicine to become an anti-racist organization, recognizing this holiday in its full complexity is of the utmost importance.

While Juneteenth is primarily celebrated among Black Americans, it is important for everyone to know about its significance to our society and our shared history. It recalls June 19, 1865, the day Black people enslaved in Texas finally learned of their freedom, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Since Juneteenth is also a reminder that this freedom was long overdue, its dual nature is a powerful symbol of the ways equity and justice continue to be denied for Black people in this country in many areas, even while progress continues to be made.

Our observance of Juneteenth will include flag-raising ceremonies at our hospitals today, June 15, at noon. We also encourage you to use this holiday to learn more about the history of Juneteenth and Black history and how you can support your Black colleagues, friends, family and community members.

Black Americans continue to face racism in our country that is a direct result of the systems and structures built during and after slavery. Juneteenth is an opportunity for us all to reflect on this past atrocity, celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans and reaffirm our commitment to creating a more just and equitable future. Thank you for continuing to be part of our work to achieve racial and social justice at UW Medicine and for all people in our country.


Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington

Paula L. Houston, Ed.D.
Chief Equity Officer
Office of Healthcare Equity, UW Medicine
Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs
University of Washington