The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has announced that for the first time in the school's history they will be declaring a school holiday in commemoration of Juneteenth. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth is recognized as being June 19th. It's the day that enslaved Black people living in Galveston Texas learned of their freedom on that day in the year 1865. To commemorate that occasion the University has announced it will recognize that day as an official holiday. Just to be clear, the 19th of June this year falls on a Saturday. Therefore UL offices and classrooms will be closed on Friday, June 18th. 

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In honor of Juneteenth, the Victory Bell at Cajun Field and the chimes in Stephens Hall will ring 19 times at Noon on Saturday.

It's hard to imagine in these days of instant information where knowledge can be beamed around the world in seconds that the news of the enslaved's freedom took nearly two years to reach the Texas coast. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was actually made two and half years before the news reached Galveston.

Officials with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette hope that students, faculty, and citizens of South Louisiana will recognize the day as a day of reflection. A day to consider the struggles that many African American citizens have faced through the many decades since the very first Juneteenth. While recognizing that there are race-related struggles that many Black Americans still face.

We can only hope that by understanding from where we came we can all grow better together as a society that values each of its members for the conviction and grace in their hearts and the intelligence and forward-thinking spirit of their minds.

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