University closed June 20 in observance of Juneteenth


On Monday, June 20, Lenoir-Rhyne University will be closed for a Day of Observance in recognition of Juneteenth.

Also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth is a federal recognized holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 abolition of slavery in Texas and the subsequent emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

“Juneteenth is symbolic celebration of physical freedom, but the derivative impact of a system supported by oppression, can be felt by African Americans throughout our nation, and stands in the way of the ultimate freedom. It is no secret, that we have an immense amount of work to do, to achieve the ultimate freedom,” shared Avery Staley, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The ultimate freedom, as described by Staley, is the closing of the gap in healthcare equity, closing the education gap, respecting persons of color, and working on ending homelessness – in a nation where some cars are worth more than homes. The ultimate freedom also includes equitable treatment related to environmental issues, fair treatment in our law enforcement and judicial system, and eradicating discrimination in the workplace. 

“We must be intentional about learning about cultures we don’t know, instead of making assumptions based on prejudices,” said Staley. “We must continue to grow and learn.”  

Join the university community in deep reflection on the work that still must be done to promote inclusion, denounce hate and promote a climate in which all human beings are able to freely express their culture and ethnicity.

“I wish a happy Juneteenth to all, and as we celebrate one layer of freedom, we should all be focused on how we can help with achieving the ultimate freedom,” said Staley. “At Lenoir Rhyne University, our commitment to providing a first-rate educational experience to all is one way Dr. Fred Whitt (university president) and faculty and staff are doing our part to help achieve the ultimate freedom.”

Alumna Kellie Medley ’11, M.A. ’14 has been appointed the new director of residence life and is charged with coordinating residence life for approximately 800 students on the Hickory campus.

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As part of this year's campus read, The Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D. visited campus to discuss his book, “Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America,” with the campus and community.

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