Juneteenth now has a permanent place on the Virginia Tech calendar.

In April, the University Council approved Juneteenth as an official university holiday to recognize the significance of June 19, 1865. On that day, the last enslaved Americans in the former Confederate States learned of the freedom granted to them by the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued more than two years earlier.

“Our sesquicentennial year has underscored the importance of connecting with our roots, understanding our past, and celebrating progress,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. 

“Establishing Juneteenth as a university holiday creates another opportunity for Hokies to reflect on the lessons our history can teach us.”

Because June 19 falls on a Sunday this year, Juneteenth will be observed by Virginia Tech on Monday, June 20, with the closing of the university and the cancellation of classes. The day will be a paid holiday for eligible faculty and staff.

Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Black Independence Day, Juneteenth marks the occasion in 1865 when Gordan Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved people of their freedom and the Civil War’s end. The following year, many of the formerly enslaved commemorated the anniversary by organizing a celebration, which has grown into today’s holiday.

The name Juneteenth comes from combining June and 19. It became a permanent holiday in Virginia in October 2020 and a permanent federal holiday in June 2021.

Virginia Tech has twice observed Juneteenth as declared via Presidential Policy Memorandums, but having now completed the formal governance process, the holiday will now be permanent on the university calendar. That process included ensuring the holiday is in line with the academic calendar criteria. It also has been approved as a faculty holiday by the Board of Visitors.

Hokies are encouraged to use this occasion as an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on how Virginia Tech can continue working to build a community free of hate, violence, and racism as  envisioned by our Principles of Community.

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