MNPS offices and schools will be closed on Monday, June 20, in honor of Juneteenth, the national federal holiday signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.
The history of Juneteenth dates to the American Civil War between the United States and the 11 Confederate States of America. During this time, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, and declared “all persons held as slaves ”in states rebelling against the Union“ shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. ””
More than 3 million slaves were subsequently freed; however, word did not reach African Americans in Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865, more than two years after Lincoln’s order and two months after the war ended.
“Juneteenth commemorates one of the too many, long awaited steps towards liberty for all,” said Todd Wigginton, director of social studies for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Juneteenth, often referred to as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day and Juneteenth Independence Day, was originally celebrated in Galveston on June 19, 1866, the first anniversary of the day when slaves there finally got the news. Early memorials included barbecues, prayer vigils, family gatherings and, later, pilgrimages to Galveston to honor the day.
Mayor John Cooper signed an executive order this year recognizing Juneteenth as a paid Metro holiday. The MNPS Board of Education took a similar step, meaning district offices will be closed and Promising Scholars and credit recovery summer classes will not be held Monday, since June 19 falls on Sunday this year.
“This week we take time to remember, reflect upon and celebrate the effective end of chattel enslavement of persons from Africa and the African diaspora in the United States,” said Ashford Hughes, MNPS’s executive officer for diversity, equity and inclusion. celebration serves as a unified celebration amongst all communities and across all cultures in the name of human rights and human dignity.
“As a district that celebrates and values the vast racial and ethnic backgrounds of our students and their families, we will take this joyous celebration to continue championing the lived experiences of our Black students, our Black educators and Black support staff as we continue to ensure that we live out the African philosophy UBUNTU, which means’I am because WE are.’ ”
The district has created the MNPS Equity Roadmap in response to the urgent need to reverse the longstanding inequities within our school system. The plan acknowledges that MNPS operates within the larger societal norms that consistently create racially and socially predictable and persistent inequitable outcomes.
The MNPS Equity Roadmap challenges everyone in the district and beyond to shift our ideological commitment and become equity leaders by centering the needs of historically marginalized students and their families.
MNPS also is working to support Black male students through the Rites of Passage mentoring program, which works with boys in grades 4 through 9 to support their academic and social-emotional development.
Juneteenth resources for MNPS families: