Juneteenth recognized as Institute holiday

Juneteenth has been adopted by MIT as an Institute holiday, effective this summer, President L. Rafael Reif wrote in an email to the MIT community May 5.

Juneteenth is usually observed on June 19 and celebrates the emancipation of African Americans in the U.S. Reif wrote in his email that the holiday “marks the moment in 1865 when the people held in slavery in Texas where finally told — two and a half years after the Emancipation Procamation — that they were legally free.”

Reif added that the designation of Juneteenth as an Institute holiday “serves to acknowledge the stain on our nation of centuries of slavery” and “encourages us to reflect on the long shadow” of slavery and “appreciate the ongoing struggle of Black Americans for equity, inclusion, and justice.”

Since June 19 is a Saturday this year, Juneteenth will be observed as an Institute holiday for the first time on June 18.

The decision follows MIT’s replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time last October. Both new holidays are the result of work done by the Institute Community and Equity Officer John Dozier, Vice President for Human Resources Ramona Allen, and MIT’s Holidays Working Group to reexamine Institute holidays.