Dear Campus Community,
Today is a historic day for our country as we celebrate President Joe Biden signing legislation into law establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day—a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
I echo the sentiments of President Biden as he claims today as one of the greatest honors he has had as President. As I am sure that this is a remarkable and proud day for all Americans, it is especially moving for many Black Americans who have fought long and hard for recognition of this date in history. Juneteenth is part of the fabric of America and commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas a mere two months after the Confederacy had surrendered.
As Ohlone College’s President, I am proud to be a part of an institution that recognizes the importance and significance of Juneteenth. On June 9th, our Board of Trustees passed and adopted the first-ever Juneteenth resolution with the following language:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Ohlone Community College Board of Trustees recognizes the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day to the United States and recognizes June 19, 2021 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” and supports the celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day to provide an opportunity for the people of the Ohlone College community to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped the United States; and recognizes that the observance of the end of slavery is part of the history and heritage of the United States.
Today, as the first Black President of Ohlone College, I am proud of the step our country has taken and am inspired to continue the work we are all doing to champion an institution that fights and is intolerable of racism, prejudice, and injustice. However, even as this overdue moment of recognition is placed into law, it cannot substitute for the real structural change we seek. It is but a baby step until we see the For the People Act passed into law, which works at ensuring voting access, as well as a strong George Floyd Policing Act also written into law. We must be vigilant of having programs substitute for structure.
The Ohlone Community College District marks this day in history and will immediately take action, working with the respective bargaining units, to implement this holiday into this current academic year 2020/21. Our Human Resources Department will share this information with all employees as it is determined.
Eric B. Bishop, Ed.D.
Ohlone Community College District