Celebrating Juneteenth

The following institutional message was shared with the campus community on June 19, 2020:

Dear Elmhurst College Community,

Today is the 155th celebration of Juneteenth, which marks the day African-American slaves in Texas were emancipated on June 19, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued years earlier and the Civil War had been won earlier that year, enforcement of the proclamation was slow to reach all corners of the Confederacy. Thus, Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the Confederate States, and the United States as a whole.

Juneteenth is therefore a day of celebration and hope, and a day that implicitly acknowledges that while the United States was founded on the ideal that “all men are created equal,” the reality of that statement continues to evolve, even today. Real change to create true racial equity seems more possible than ever in the present moment, as communities across the country begin reflecting on what it means to dismantle systemic racism and be actively anti-racist on the individual and organizational levels.

Because social justice is key to the mission of Elmhurst College, we encourage you to use today as an opportunity to not only celebrate past civil rights victories, but also reflect on what action can be done to further racial justice in your community. Several events and resources related to celebrations of Juneteenth and reflections on racial justice are described below. We hope that you can find a way to engage in both reflection and action today in a way that best suits you—however large or small.


  • President Troy D. VanAken
  • President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Elmhurst College Alumni Association Board of Directors
  • The Rev. H. Scott Matheney

Juneteenth Events and Resources 


Campus Celebration of Juneteenth

The Rev. Scott Matheney will host a socially distanced celebration of Juneteenth today at noon on the Chapel steps, for anyone who can attend. Participants are asked to wear masks and are welcome to bring their lunch.

Faith Community-Led Peaceful Demonstration at Grant Park

A peaceful demonstration led by pastors and other faith leaders, this march is an option for those looking to become more directly involved in the protest movement. Noon, Roosevelt Road and Columbus Drive, Chicago.

Anti-Racism Educational Resources

  • Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th
    • A documentary related to the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which formally abolished slavery
  • The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project
    • An ongoing initiative to acknowledge and reframe the consequences of American slavery by placing black Americans’ experiences at the center of the narrative
  • New film release: Just Mercy
    • A biopic about civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson; free to view
  • The Anti-Racism Starter Kit
    • A useful “how-to” guide on how to become actively anti-racist.

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