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SLU to Recognize Juneteenth as a University Holiday

May 11, 2021

Dear members of the Saint Louis University community,

Today, I write to announce that Saint Louis University will join 47 states, the District of Columbia and many of our sister Jesuit universities in observing Juneteenth as a holiday.

Since Juneteenth will fall on a Saturday this year, it will be recognized as a University holiday on Friday, June 18, 2021.

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865, when more than a quarter-million enslaved people living in the former Confederate state of Texas learned from arriving Union troops that they were free by presidential decree. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.

In 1980, Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas. Juneteenth not only celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, it also symbolizes a hope that the formerly enslaved and their descendants would enjoy the full fruit of freedom.

Although Juneteenth is not a new holiday, recognizing and observing this day is another way we, as a University Community, can build on our Jesuit value of being “men and women for and with others.” In particular, adding this holiday allows us an opportunity to pay homage to the enslaved men and women whose lives and labor were essential to building and sustaining the mission of Saint Louis University. 

Marking Juneteenth as a University holiday also helps demonstrate our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive institution promoting racial justice and the end to systemic racism.

May we all work to bring about a future where the stories of all — enslaved and free — who labored to build our community can be told and celebrated. We are all created in the image of God. This is our belief. This is our Christian message.

May God bless each of you and Saint Louis University.

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

Mickey Luna, J.D.
Vice President for Human Resources

Jonathan Smith, Ph.D.
Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement