Juneteenth 2020

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Dear JCSU Family, 
Today, we observe Juneteenth as protestors across the nation continue the push for social justice, police reform and an end to systemic racism. Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom on June 19, 1865 – two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Now more than ever, it’s important that we know and celebrate the history of Black people in this country, while advocating for a future without social and economic disparities based on the color of our skin.

Johnson C. Smith University has and will continue to be a leader in the fight for civil rights, equality and the end to injustice. Our University which was established in 1867 – just two years after those enslaved in Galveston learned of their freedom – has produced Black lawyers, doctors, athletes, educators, scientists, social workers, politicians, clergy and leaders in nearly every field of endeavor. We will continue to produce graduates who are critical thinkers and problem solvers equipped with the knowledge and skills to tackle tough problems in their professions and continue the fight for justice. 

As an historically Black institution of higher education, it’s important that our faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters understand the value of our mission. Education is a great equalizer and continues to be the vehicle that drives upward mobility. I am passionate about making a high-quality, affordable education accessible to all students, no matter the ZIP code of their home addresses. I was proud to join the Black Men United rally and march in Charlotte on June 17. However, I know we must do more than protest to achieve the necessary result of ending the racism that often leaves students of color behind. We must take action and hold each other accountable collectively, to invest in and provide the resources that help make it possible for HBCUs to fulfill our mission of providing the education that opens the door for a better future for our graduates that will result in a more just and equitable society.

As the nation celebrates our culture and commemorates our history on this 155th Juneteenth, I ask that we individually and collectively think about the work that needs to be done and commit to continuing that work long after the media spotlight on the issue of systemic racism has faded.


Clarence D. Armbrister signature

Clarence D. Armbrister, J.D.