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Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

On this Friday, June 19, the University will be closed to commemorate Juneteenth. All faculty and staff will have a full day of paid time off. If you must work that day to support essential operations, your efforts will be acknowledged with other paid time off.

Long celebrated as an Independence Day in the African American community, Juneteenth marks the day—155 years ago this year—that enslaved African American people in Texas were told of their freedom from bondage. It offers a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the promise of a new beginning, and I cannot imagine a better year for Harvard to begin recognizing its significance. These are extraordinary times distinguished by extraordinary displays of passion and resolve. We are everywhere reminded of the possibility of something different—something better—for our communities, our states, and our nation, as well as the deep reflection and hard work getting there will require of all of us.

Throughout the week, the Harvard Gazette will be featuring related coverage and resources, and I encourage you to learn more about the many ways in which members of our community are advancing the cause of racial justice in America. Each of us has a role to play in considering the past and the present as we work together to imagine our future, and I am proud to undertake that important—and essential—work with all of you. 

All the best,