BALTIMORE — Juneteenth is now a holiday for several colleges and universities across Maryland.
Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, which includes 12 institutions in all, Jay A. Perlman, made the announcement Wednesday.
Juneteenth, June 19, is a day commemorating the end of slavery in America. The holiday gained wider attention last year following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and the protests for social justice that followed in the summer.
Perman said that several universities within the USM recognized the holiday in 2020.
"The granting of leave came in the emotionally raw weeks following the killing of George Floyd, and was meant to help us confront the pain and indignity that slavery has left behind, to reflect on the fight for freedom and justice—then and now—and to joyfully celebrate Black history and culture, Black resistance and resilience," Perman said in a statement.
He said that going forward the holiday would be recognized across the University System of Maryland, and since June 19 falls on a Saturday in 2021, the holiday would be observed on Friday, June 18.
"I hope the hours of reflection this day provides can help us gather strength for what lies ahead—for we’re just starting our work to examine and redress our part in anti-Black racism and systemic inequities that so badly disadvantage people and communities of color," Perman said.
Juneteenth is a second Independence day for a quarter of a million Black people in Texas who were free, but did not know it. Enslaved people in Texas did not hear of the order to end slavery until 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.