Provost Deborah Prentice writes to Princeton employees about Juneteenth — a day of reflection.
This Friday, June 19th, our nation will formally observe Juneteenth, long celebrated in the African American community as a commemoration of the day, 155 years ago, on which enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom from bondage. This year’s Juneteenth celebration comes at a moment of deep reckoning in our nation, as communities across the country wrestle with the reality and legacy of institutional racism. The brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, part of a long history of acts of violence and intimidation directed against Black people, demand that both individuals and institutions commit themselves to rejecting racism in all its forms.
But action must be rooted in reflection. On Friday, the University will offer all faculty and staff a fully paid day off to recognize the significance of Juneteenth for our community and to provide space to contemplate how we can do our part to eliminate structural and overt racism and other forms of discrimination on our campus, in our communities, and in our country. Staff whose duties oblige them to report to work will receive compensatory time off at a later date.
This moment of reflection is just one step on a longer journey. The University is currently working with our community and identifying concrete steps to enhance its commitment to structural change and anti-racism; some steps are already in progress, and additional steps will be announced in the weeks ahead. We must ensure that everyone who works and studies on our campus is treated with respect, and that all of our students, staff and faculty have the support they need to flourish. We encourage each of you to be an active participant in the struggle to eliminate racism at Princeton and beyond.
The Office of Human Resources has developed a list of readings, potential activities, and other resources which we encourage you to explore as you determine your response to this moment.
As we continue our work together, the University would like to hear from you. Please reach out to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity or the Office of Human Resources to share your input, feedback and personal reflections about how we can better fulfill our commitment to building community and combatting racism.