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The Tufts University 2022 Juneteenth Observance Ceremony was a success!

Thank you for participating in our Juneteenth Observance on Friday, June 17, 2022.

We enjoyed a variety of lively artistic performances from our community partners and an invitation from our keynote speaker, Dr. Jelani Cobb, to "courageously and directly grapple with the history of the United States," and thus, the deeper contexts of Juneteenth.

-2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee


Tufts Now: "Learning the Lessons of Juneteenth's History

2022 Juneteenth Observance Ceremony recording

A Message from the 2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee

Esteemed Members of Tufts University,

Greetings on behalf of the 2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee. It is with great reverence and enthusiasm that we guide Tufts into its observance of Juneteenth this year. Juneteenth is also known by several names, such as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day. Since June 19, 1865, it has been celebrated by the Black/African-American community to commemorate the date when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were given the great news that they were free at last.

During a period when many entities were not observing Juneteenth, Tufts University chose to officially observe a holiday that has deep cultural and historical significance for our country. Since Tufts took its unprecedented stand, Juneteenth has become a federally recognized holiday. It is encouraging that Juneteenth is now a federally observed holiday and has taken its rightful place in American history. Yet, events over the past several weeks make it clear that we must all be committed to the work that is inherent in the pursuit of complete liberation.

When I think about our collective obligation to pursue liberation, I am reminded of the meaning of the word ubuntu. In the Zulu/Xhosa language, the saying goes “Umuntu ngummuntu ngabantu”: I am a person through your being a person. Within the spirit of Juneteenth lies the truth that our humanity is inextricably connected to the humanity of others. Because our humanity is bound together, it must also be true that our suffering, and indeed our liberation are bound together. In the words of activist Opal Lee, Juneteenth invites us to remember that none of us are free until all of us are free.

This year, Tufts University will engage in a Juneteenth Observance Ceremony. On June 17, the community will take time to pause, reflect, and contextualize the purpose and legacy of this holiday within our modern struggle toward freedom. I invite you to join the celebration as we contemplate how Tufts University can deepen its commitment and contributions to our collective liberation.

With Grace & Clarity,

S. Rae Peoples

Chair, 2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee

The 2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee reflected on the meaning of the holiday in the video, "Juneteenth at Tufts 2022: A Reflection and Celebration of What Liberation Means to Us." Watch it here. 

Juneteenth 2022 Resource Guide


Program Schedule

This year’s Juneteenth Observance Ceremony has two components: a ceremony in Distler Hall in the Granoff Music Center from 9:00-10:30 a.m. and a viewing of the exhibit, "Another Light on the Hill: Black Students at Tufts" from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in the Coolidge Room in Ballou Hall. The ceremony will also be available via livestream for those unable to attend in person. Please RSVP here. The program for the ceremony follows:

Musical Opening (Distler Patio) 

Yacouba Diabate, Master Kora Player

Opening the Space

Joyce Sackey, Chief Diversity Officer & Associate Provost

Welcoming Remarks

Tony Monaco, President

Black National Anthem

Kendall Ramseur

Kendall Ramseur is a renowned cellist, composer, singer and songwriter. His full biography can be found here.

Emancipation Proclamation

A recording of the Emancipation Proclamation will be played for listening and reflection.

Expression of Art

Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE)

JAE is a Boston-based contemporary dance company deeply rooted in Haitian-folkloric culture that celebrates, nurtures, and empowers a global community. More information about JAE can be found here.

Charge of the Juneteenth Planning Committee

Caroline Genco, Provost & Senior Vice President ad interim

Hold On

Kendall Ramseur

Introduction of Guest Speaker

Lisa Fenn, Member, 2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee & Program Director, Antiracism Initiative

Keynote Address

Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb is a renowned journalist and thought leader on the topics of race, history, politics and culture in America, and is the incoming dean for Columbia University’s Journalism School. He is currently the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism and director of the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights at Columbia, as well as a staff writer for The New Yorker. His full biography can be found here.


S. Rae Peoples, Chair, 2022 Juneteenth Planning Committee & Associate Director, Diversity & Inclusion

Closing the Space

Rob Mack, Chief Diversity Officer & Associate Provost

Musical Closing (Distler Lobby, Under the Ghanaian Canopy) 

Yacouba Diabate, Master Kora Player


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Archive of Past Juneteenth Celebrations

Juneteenth 2021: A Day of Reflection, Commitment, and Action for Racial Justice

Juneteenth 2020: A Day of Reflection, Commitment, and Action for Racial Justice


Leaders and Members of the Black Community at Tufts University Throughout the Years