News Brief

Message from President Eddinger: Happy Juneteenth

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Bunker Hill Community College | Office of the President

Dear Bunker Hill Community, 

Happy Juneteenth Independence Day! 

On Monday, June 19, across the Commonwealth and the nation, we will observe this state and federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when troops of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, the last Confederate state still under the control of slaveholders at the end of the American Civil War to deliver the message on the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 had declared all enslaved people in the Confederacy legally free, in practice, it was not until this later date that the promise of the Proclamation could be realized.  

The 1865 Juneteenth Proclamation was issued by Major General Gordon Granger in the form of a General Order. For such a momentous document, it is surprisingly brief, just 96 words in its entirety:  

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere. 

As a freedom celebration, Juneteenth is a joyous moment, but as a moment in history it shows us that there is still much work to do before freedom is fully realized. Granger’s warning that the formerly enslaved should “remain quietly” at the places where they were enslaved and that they “will not be supported in idleness” is a painful reminder of the many forms of oppression that continued after emancipation and continue to this day.  Juneteenth brings home the lesson that some cannot be free until all are free, and the work of emancipation continues here and now.  

Amidst this unfinished work, however, Juneteenth also demands celebration—a celebration that connects the descendants of enslaved people to the great expansion of the American experiment under Reconstruction, to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and to the contemporary Black Lives Matter Movement of today.   

As you celebrate Juneteenth with friends and family, I hope that you will take the time to join our community’s program of reflections on the holiday on Thursday, June 15 at 6 p.m. on Zoom. Entitled “Ordinary Freedom in Extraordinary Times,” it will feature author and self-described “multi-hyphenated creative” Julia Mallory, as she explores timely questions for our Juneteenth celebration. Please join us. 

Wishing you a wonderful Juneteenth. 

Pam Y. Eddinger, PhD
Bunker Hill Community College