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SUNY Plattsburgh Honors Freedom, Advancing Equity in Juneteenth Commemoration

juneteenth flag

Beginning Wednesday, June 19, SUNY Plattsburgh will raise the Juneteenth flag in front of Hawkins Hall where it will remain until Thursday, June 20 as a symbol of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

In a joint message to the campus, President Alexander Enyedi and Allison Heard, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, said , “The colors of the flag are often seen in decorations, clothing, and various forms of celebration during Juneteenth events. Red represents the resilience and sacrifice of African Americans. Green symbolizes growth, prosperity, and the promise of a bright future.

“Black represents the African American community and white is often used in the Juneteenth flag to symbolize the struggle for freedom,” they said.

Freedom Day

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the true ending of slavery in the United States, marking the moment when the last enslaved African Americans in Texas were told of their freedom, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“This day serves as a poignant reminder of the long and arduous journey toward justice and equality,” they said.

While Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late 19th century, it gained national recognition as a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed it into law as Juneteenth National Independence Day. This recognition underscores the significance of this day in our nation's history and its relevance to our present and future, Enyedi and Heard said.

SUNY Plattsburgh will be closed Wednesday, June 19, 2024, to honor this vital moment in history.

‘Reflect on Resilience, Contributions’

“We encourage our campus community to reflect on the profound resilience and contributions of Black Americans who have faced and overcome immense adversity,” they said. “This legacy is a testament to strength, endurance, and the relentless pursuit of civil rights and social justice.

“Our campus is dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment that respects and honors the histories and experiences of all its members. Juneteenth is an opportunity to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and achievements of the Black community and to recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of achieving true equity and inclusion.”

They continued, “Let us use this day to educate ourselves, engage in meaningful conversations, and participate in activities that honor the spirit of Juneteenth.”

The Juneteenth Colors of Freedom in the North Country celebration, hosted in part by the North Country Underground Railroad Museum and John Brown Lives!, will be held Saturday, June 22 beginning with a welcome at 9 a.m. at the Underground Railroad Museum. The day includes tours, barbecue lunch, performances by the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir and a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center healing circle at 3 p.m. at the John Brown Farm in Lake Placid.

For a full schedule and more, including transportation information and registration, visit https://northcountryundergroundrailroad.com/forms/web/colors-of-freedom-tour-registration-2024.php.

— By Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs

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