Towson University pauses to reflect on Juneteenth

By Kyle Hobstetter on June 17, 2021

Campus has explored the impact of Juneteenth throughout June

Towson University will observe Juneteenth on June 18 with administrative day following a series of interactive learning experiences that offered reflection and calls to action.

Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States, is traditionally marked June 19. This marks the second year that TU has recognized the holiday on campus with an administrative day to allow the university community to pause and reflect. In June of 2020, TU President Kim Schatzel announced the community would observe Juneteenth as an administrative leave day for all faculty and staff. Classes were canceled so students might also participate.

TU announced that it would observe Juneteenth as a university holiday each year beginning in 2021, the first university in the University System of Maryland (USM) to do so. President Joseph Biden signed a bill this week making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

“On this Juneteenth, it is imperative that we not only pause to acknowledge the inequities of our past, but to come together as a community to support one another," President Kim Schatzel said. "Each of us is empowered to stand up to injustice, oppression and racism wherever it occurs."

Towson University campus offices, including the Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity (OIIE), the Towson University Black Faculty and Staff Affinity Group, the Career Center, the TU Writing Center and the TU Dance Company, collaborated on programs to deepen understanding of Juneteenth.

For a complete list Towson University’s Juneteenth resources and events, visit the Towson University Juneteenth page.

“Hopefully, these events will not only educate, inspire and move us to reflect on the historical implications of Juneteenth but motivate us to determine our own biases, acknowledge the reality of racial harm and be active seekers for solutions,” says LaVern Chapman, the diversity and inclusion specialist in OIIE.

Chapman says TU Juneteenth presentations have emphasized the current disproportionate impacts of housing discrimination, restrictive voting, mass incarceration, food deserts and a lack of economic investment in communities of color.

“The writer Pearl Buck once said, ‘If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday,’” Chapman says. “So we have to understand that enslavement is a bridge to current racial inequity and systemic racism."