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Austin Peay State University diversity officer: Juneteenth celebrates progress, highlights delay of freedom, justice for black people


Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Friday, June 19th, 2020 marks the 155th anniversary of Union soldiers arriving in Galveston, Texas, with orders that all slaves in Texas were free in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, signed 2 ½ years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.

Austin Peay State University chief diversity officer LaNeeca Williams. (APSU)

People throughout Texas started celebrating the event every year starting in 1866, and the celebration spread throughout the South, eventually becoming a widely recognized holiday many call Juneteenth. The celebration also is known as Freedom Day and Jubilee Day.

A bill to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday is under consideration by the current session of the Tennessee General Assembly.

We asked Austin Peay State University’s LaNeeca Williams, chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator, to share her thoughts about Juneteenth. They follow:

“Juneteenth is the most conspicuous Emancipation Day holiday in the United States. It commemorates a moment in history that still remains relatively obscure. The holiday highlights how freedom and justice in the United States have always been delayed for black people. 

“Many years after the end of the (Civil) war, there would be a wave of lynching, imprisonment and Jim Crow laws. The unequal impact of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies, and a lack of economic investment followed.

“Today, as national attention remains focused on acts of police brutality and racial incidents, it is clear that while progress has been made in black America over 100 years of suppression, considerable barriers continue to impede that progress. In recent weeks it is has become even more evident that freedom and justice are essential for all people.
“I am encouraged that campus members at Austin Peay State University are taking action to become “Partners in Justice.” So far, a collective group of African American employees has hosted a ‘Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Racism and Social Injustices’ that was widely attended. 

“The following week, Human Resources hosted a workshop on ‘What it means to be a Partner in Justice in Times of Social Unrest.’

“Lastly, the newly formed African American Employee Council is also planning future events for June. 

“These are definitely challenging times in our country. However, it is invigorating to see campus members come together and fight injustice on so many different levels to ensure freedom and justice for all in the true spirit of Juneteenth.”




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