June 18, 2020
Dear UT Community,
As many of you are aware, tomorrow is Juneteenth — which since 1865, has been widely celebrated as the official date marking the end of slavery in the United States. This holiday has deep Texas ties and, in fact, can be traced to the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston on June 19, 1865.
Given all that has transpired in recent weeks and our nation’s ongoing efforts to improve race relations, I am officially suggesting that — to the extent possible — all UT employees use their work hours tomorrow afternoon not to conduct their planned work activities, but instead to engage in meaningful activities with family and friends, and to reflect on an important day for so many in the African American community and beyond. I also encourage students to use their time outside of classes tomorrow to do the same. Given our shared values and objectives, I trust that our supervisors will do their best to adjust and enable these activities for our people.
Our state, nation and society have come a long way in the more than 150 years since the first Juneteenth. But the killing of George Floyd and other recent events show we still have a very long way to go. I hope you use tomorrow afternoon as an opportunity to explore our history, to have meaningful and even difficult discussions, to reflect on your own life experiences, and to create needed space for productive thought during these trying times.
Thank you all for your engagement and for supporting one another.