Commemorating African American Freedom on Juneteenth

In 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks that day and honors the end to slavery in the United States. It is considered the longest-running African American holiday. This year is the first year that it’s an official holiday in the commonwealth of Massachusetts and at Boston University.

Learn more about Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, or Emancipation Day, by engaging with the resources, events, and research on antiracism we’ve highlighted below.

Online events

Juneteenth 2021: Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Future

Held on June 17 | Registration closed | View recording
The Black Alumni Leadership Council and the Boston University Alumni Association invite you for an in-depth conversation on transformative events in Black history that have shaped generations from Emancipation to the Tulsa Massacre and the dedication of the Shaw Memorial on Beacon Hill. Experts will provide a better understanding of how we can look back while planning for the future. Bring your questions for a Q&A at the end of the discussion.

Webinars on demand

Antiracism as Health Policy: Race, COVID-19, and Policy Reform

In partnership with Boston University’s School of Public Health, we hosted a three-part series the examined the racial disparities in health brought vividly to public attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers included our director Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Dean Sandro Galea.

To view recordings of all three sessions, please visit the links below:

Part 1: Data, race, and COVID-19
Part 2: Connecting research and policy
Part 3: Antiracist policy solutions

The unfinished search for common ground: Howard Thurman & Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings

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In celebration of Juneteenth 2020, the Black Alumni Leadership Council and the Boston University Alumni Association presented a discussion on the contributions and ideas of Howard Thurman’s “search for common ground” and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of a World House. Today, how do we address resurfaced, deep-seated racial issues? Where and who are the leaders of today?

A conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi & Andrea L. Taylor

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Presented by the Black Alumni Leadership Council and the Boston University Alumni Association, this conversation took place nearly a year ago on Dr. Kendi’s first day at Boston University. In a “fireside chat” format, Dr. Kendi discusses his vision for the Center for Antiracist Research.

400 years of inequity: Breaking the cycle of systemic racism

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In the fall of 2019, Sandro Galea, dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at BU SPH, discussed how to break the cycle of systemic racism with forward-looking and solution-driven discussions. This lecture marked 400 years since a group of 20 Africans were first sold in bondage in Jamestown, Virginia.

A Conversation about Blackness, immigration, & what it means to be an American

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BU’s Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground and African American Studies department present this conversation inspired by Louis Chude-Sokei’s memoir Floating in a Most Peculiar Way. The program explores the changing notions of race and ethnicity in America, followed by a question-and-answer period.

How to live free in an age of pessimism

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In this lecture from 2020, author Neil Roberts invites us all to think about not only how we ‘get’ free, but also how we ‘live’ free. The lecture and subsequent group discussion focus particular attention on the recent national and global uprisings regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, white supremacy, monuments, and antiracism.

Initiatives at BU

Explore the different centers, initiatives, and programs that BU has in place to better the lives of our Black students, faculty, and staff.

Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground
Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground unites students in their desire to learn about themselves and one another. The center advances Dr. Thurman’s philosophy of self-exploration and community building through meaningful and creative shared experiences. Give to the HTC.

The Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Boston University
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion leads BU’s efforts to create a culture that values and supports diversity, equity, access, and inclusion across campus.

African American Studies Program
In 1969 Boston University established the first graduate African American Studies Program in the country. Today, the AAS department publishes The Black Scholar, ranked as the #1 journal of Black studies in the United States.

Black Alumni Leadership Council
Black Alumni Leadership Council works to broaden opportunities for Black communities at Boston University and maximize Black alumni participation.

UMOJA: BU Black Student Union
UMOJA is committed to supporting Black students in the areas of academics, community service, socialization, and future career goals. By existing and by acting as an outlet for the talents and abilities of Black students, UMOJA also sets out to educate the greater Boston University community on aspects of the Black experience. Click here to give to UMOJA.


News: BU adds Juneteenth as an annual holiday in University calendar
Read about BU’s decision to recognize Juneteenth as an official University holiday in 2021. The decision was made as part of an ongoing effort to make BU “the diverse, equitable, and inclusive community that best embodies our values,” President Robert A. Brown announced in a letter sent to the University community in May.

POV: Reverend Dr. Ronald Johnson, Sr., (STH’06) reflects on Juneteenth’s significance
Rev. Dr. Ron Johnson (STH’06) is featured among Black history professors as they reflect on the significance behind Juneteenth. Originally published in June 2020.

Broadcast: The radical ‘possibilities’ of Black studies
Presented by the Boston University African American Studies program, this episode of BU’s World of Ideas features Dr. Kehinde Andrews, professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, Birmingham England.