Juneteenth 2020: A Call to Action – June 19

The following message was sent to the campus community from Chief Diversity Office Jeanne Arnold on June 19, 2020.

Dear Campus Community,

Today we recognize Juneteenth, a 155-year-old celebration of the end of slavery (almost three years after the Emancipation Proclamation). In 2020 this holiday takes on new meaning. Many have called on us to use this day to reflect on the legacy of slavery. Perhaps at some point in the future we’ll all have the luxury to do so, but today, black and brown people in this country are living the legacy in real time.

The public lynching of George Floyd, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the murder of Rayshard Brooks and so many others—these heinous and repetitive acts make it all too clear that institutionalized racism and white supremacy are still pervasive in our society.

Do we dare to hope that this moment in history could be a turning point in our society? Could our actions, right now, lead to significant movement toward the dismantling of structures, policies, and practices that comprise our system of American racism? It has been encouraging to see so many allies among the thousands of protesters nationwide, but we need them to continue to be advocates. To keep learning and to speak out when they see injustice happening. This type of focused and relentless attention, in their advocacy work in government, in the corporate sector, in our educational systems, and in their own neighborhoods will help to shine a light on issues that we as a society for too long have chosen not to see or to confront.

Those of us affiliated with Gettysburg College, past and present, have a special responsibility to step up and come together to engage in this unfinished work. We can start by identifying and addressing the policies and systems of oppression on our own campus, before moving out into the county surrounding our College and beyond. In recent weeks, many members of our community have spoken up about the work that is still left to be done at our College. It’s important work to be sure, but the real challenge is to keep the focus. Racism and injustice are constants in the lives of our black and brown community members, not only when these acts make the national news.

I’m calling all change agents, especially our non-black allies, to the floor. It’s time to educate yourselves on the issues, to listen, and to not let up. Continue to make your voices heard.


Jeanne Arnold
Chief Diversity Officer