Office of the President

June 18, 2020 - In Honor of Juneteenth

To: Campus Community
From: President Gayle Hutchinson

Over the last two weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about Black Lives Matter and the growing movement of support, which is igniting worldwide activism as citizens and nations join together to demand social justice and an end to brutality against Black people in America. Recognizing the historical significance of this moment in time, our campus, state, and nation have a tremendous opportunity to effect lasting change aimed at eliminating racism. But change will not come without serious and difficult self-reflection, courageous conversations, and new actions. What will you do to be a part of the solution? What will we do as a learning community to identify and address systemic and behavioral racism on the Chico State campus?

I invite you to ponder these questions every day beginning this Friday as we observe one of the oldest and most important African American holidays, Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that all enslaved people were now free. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, declaring “that all persons held as slaves [in the Confederate States of America] are and henceforward shall be free.” However, enforcement in Texas, the most remote of the slave states, had been slow and uneven. Upon hearing the news, former slaves rejoiced, giving birth to the annual celebration of Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee or Freedom Day.

Juneteenth symbolizes for me the strength, character, resilience, and solidarity of Black communities across the country who have collectively endured brutal racist attacks, prejudice, and discrimination for centuries—from slavery to post-Civil War reconstruction to the Jim Crow era of forced segregation through the civil rights movement persisting into today. Centuries have passed, social reform movements have come and gone, yet we have not found a way as Americans joining together to reconcile and end the nation’s structural and behavioral racism.

I, like you, hope that time is now.

Chico State will leverage the global momentum supporting Black Lives Matter and driving systemic and institutional reform against racism and other forms of oppression and prejudice. To believe it will be easy denies the breadth and complexity of the issue. Yet, this is the right time to strengthen our diversity efforts and institute new actions that drive away social inequities.

Creating and sustaining change will take the strength and commitment of all of us. Accordingly, I encourage the entire campus community to spend time on Juneteenth and the days and months ahead thinking and planning ways to engage in the work required to identify and address racism in our curricula, services, policies, and practices. I will.

I am determined to improve our campus culture and truly build inclusive communities of excellence. I look forward to working with all of you starting now to make this vision a reality for Chico State.