Juneteenth, a longstanding holiday in parts of the United States that recognizes the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and celebrates the self-determination of Black Americans, is now an official state holiday in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis signed a legislative bill into law on May 2, declaring Juneteenth a state holiday. Colorado’s decision to observe Juneteenth follows the lead of the federal government, which officially recognized the holiday last year.
Traditionally observed on June 19, Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when the Union Army arrived in Texas, the last state in the Confederacy with institutional slavery, to proclaim freedom for enslaved people—more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
“As a university committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, we’re proud to join with all Coloradans in recognizing this important moment in U.S. history,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, I urge everyone in the CU Boulder community to reflect on the long road to emancipation and the ways our modern lives continue to be shaped by the stain of American slavery.”
Later this spring, CU Boulder will announce a campus event to honor and recognize Juneteenth, and University Libraries has assembled an online resource guide to share more about the holiday. In addition, Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood will hold its annual Juneteenth celebration, June 17-19.
“Juneteenth is a noteworthy celebration not only for the Black community but for all of us to value U.S. history," said Sonia DeLuca Fernández, senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. "As a place for lifelong learning, CU Boulder has a responsibility to perpetually renew our commitment to freedom and justice––understanding important legacies of both tragedy and triumph.”
The university will offer Juneteenth as a floating personal observance day for all leave-eligible faculty and staff, who can take the time off between now and Dec. 31 in consultation with supervisors, campus human resources officials said.
This flexibility will accommodate faculty, staff and students involved with the summer session, which begins May 9 and is part of the current academic calendar.
The summer session academic calendar, which has been set to include the number of instructor-student contact hours required for university accreditation, precludes the university from instituting a fixed holiday this summer.
In the months ahead, the four CU campuses and the university’s system office will determine how to implement this additional state holiday into academic calendars. Details on a personal day of observance for Juneteenth for fiscal year 2023 will be forthcoming.
More information is available on the Human Resources website.