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Reflections on this Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

Dear members of our Saint Louis University community,

 Exactly 155 years ago today, Union soldiers under the leadership of General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas. Granger announced the end of the Civil War. More importantly, through General Order No. 3, he announced both the end of slavery and the equality of rights to African Americans still held in slavery in Texas were freed. More than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the message arrived and the real work of emancipation began. 

 That is Juneteenth, and the significance of it is not lost on me.

 That is why I am taking the opportunity on this day in particular to connect with you, our students, staff, faculty and parents about SLU’s role in sustaining momentum in becoming actively anti-racist. In community, six years ago we crafted the Clock Tower Accords and made commitments to diminish the effects of systemic racism at Saint Louis University. 

We have a responsibility to complete and maintain those commitments. We have a responsibility to bring meaning to the loss of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and the thousands of other Black lives ended unjustly. Specifically, we bear an institutional responsibility to Von Myers, Sr. and his family. Almost undoubtedly, without Von’s tragic loss, there would be no Accords. 

 Today, I bring you this video update, from my heart to you. It’s about where we’ve been, where we are now with the Clock Tower Accords, and where we need to go.

A Juneteenth Message from Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., Saint Louis University vice president for diversity and community engagement.