Honoring Juneteenth

Office of the President

Dear Graduate Center Community,

Tomorrow, June 19, Juneteenth, marks the day in 1865 — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued — when Black slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom. It has long been a day of celebration. But this year's Juneteenth has extra significance. The ongoing and rightful protests against racism and police brutality show that we must never forget how the legacy of slavery oppresses people of color in this country.

As Graduate Center scholars have pointed out, the shadow of slavery is ever-present in our sprawling prison-industrial complex. It haunts Black mothers, who are more likely than white mothers to die while pregnant or giving birth. It looms in the halls of our segregated and over-policed schools.

Earlier this month, we pledged to create an anti-racist community at The Graduate Center and to promote equity and inclusion within our institution and our nation.

In partnership with Interim Chief Librarian Emily Drabinski, her fellow librarians, and Professor Martin Ruck, special advisor to the president for diversity and inclusion, I invite you to honor this Juneteenth by committing, or re-committing, to be an anti-racist.

The library has initiated an anti-racism and Black Lives Matter reading list, which includes a number of works by Graduate Center scholars.

I grew up in Minnesota smug in the conviction that I lived in an enlightened state that exemplified the ideals of Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, and Paul Wellstone. My eyes were opened and I was profoundly saddened by the killing of George Floyd. With the library’s sub-collection of histories of Black communities in Minnesota, I again see how far off the mark I was.

Below you will find some of the works included in the library’s list. You will find a more complete compendium of works in this blog post.

Starting this Friday, let’s spend time with the ideas presented by scholars within and beyond The Graduate Center. In so doing, we can follow through on our promise to establish a community and a country that are anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive.

As James Baldwin observed, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”


James Muyskens
Interim President

From The Graduate Center

Library Study Guides Reading Lists

Submitted on: JUN 18, 2020

Category: Diversity | President's Office - Archive