Division News & Statements

Juneteenth Celebration at Grand Valley State University

May 25, 2023

Dear GVSU Community,

Juneteenth, the oldest recognized Black American holiday in the United States, is a symbol of freedom and resilience. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas in 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This day holds deep historical significance, marking a pivotal moment in the journey toward mass emancipation. Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice, racial equality, and civil rights in America. It stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who fought for freedom and inspires us to continue the pursuit of a more equitable society.

This year, on Monday, June 19, 2023, the President’s Office, Office of the Provost, and Division of Inclusion and Equity will host an inaugural Juneteenth celebration and talk, followed by a GVSU Quest Series panel. These events will be held both in person and livestreamed, but registration is required. More details are provided at the link and below.

For some, this will be a time of self-care. For others, it will be a time to learn more deeply, and for many, it will be a time for both. We encourage faculty and supervisors to be flexible with employees and students on this day.

We hope that you will join us on this inaugural gathering as we celebrate the history and resilience of the Black community. Thank you for taking this opportunity to learn and reflect with one another. And thank you for being a part of our ongoing commitment to advance inclusion and equity at Grand Valley. 


Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff to the President
Vice President for Inclusion and Equity


Juneteenth Celebration Events
Monday, June 19, 2023
L. William Seidman Center, Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus

12:30-2 p.m. Luncheon and keynote presentation with Professor Bobby J. Smith II 

We are honored to have Professor Bobby J. Smith II as our esteemed speaker for the event. Dr. Smith is an interdisciplinary sociologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research uses sociohistorical and community-based approaches to analyze historical and contemporary struggles for food justice and food sovereignty in Black communities in the United States. During his keynote, he will also delve into the rich history of Juneteenth, shedding light on its significance and importance.  Click here to register.

3-4 p.m. GVSU Quest Series - Faculty Panel

Featuring esteemed GVSU faculty members. More information about this event and the participating panelists will be shared soon by the Office of the Provost. Details will be available on the GVSU Quest Series website .

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Page last modified May 25, 2023