BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech has approved Juneteenth as an official university holiday in honor of June 19, 1865.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Black Independence Day, marks the date that Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led a force of Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas to relay a message of freedom to about 250,000 enslaved people in the community.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation granted them their freedom two years earlier, it was the first time that the last enslaved Americans in the former Confederate States had learned about it.
Now, June 19, referred to as Juneteenth, is recognized by 48 states and Washington, D.C. as a state holiday or ceremonial holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in the U.S.
In October 2020, Juneteenth became a permanent holiday in Virginia, and in June 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill establishing Juneteenth as the 11th federal holiday.
“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.”
Given that June 19 falls on a Sunday this year, the university will observe it on Monday, June 20. Classes will be canceled on this day and it will also be a paid holiday for eligible faculty and staff.