Tomorrow we celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth is one of the most important days in our nation’s history, as noted on the National Museum of African American History and Culture website:
“Juneteenth is one of the most important events in our nation’s history. On ‘Freedom’s Eve’ or the eve of January 1, 1863 the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect.
At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom.
But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. This meant that in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. On June 19, 1865 that changed, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, TX were notified by the arrival of some 2,000 Union troops that they, along with the more than 250,000 other enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree.”
In celebration of Juneteenth, UW Medicine proclaims June 19, 2020, a day of contemplation and reflection on the terrible history of slavery in this country and its legacy in contemporary society and culture.
To learn more about Juneteenth, we encourage you to visit the following resources:
- “Juneteenth: Freedom at Last” by Minnesota Historical Society.
- “What is Juneteenth?” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- “What is Juneteenth?” by AL.com.
In solidarity and action,
Paul G. Ramsey, MD
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington
Paula L. Houston, EdD
Director, Healthcare Equity
Office of the Chief Medical Officer