June 18, 2021 Update

Friday, June 18, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

Tomorrow we will celebrate Juneteenth, a nationwide commemoration of the end of enslavement of African Americans in the United States on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

This year's celebration is especially meaningful as bipartisan legislation recently passed in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives that recognizes Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The legislation was signed into law by President Biden this week.

It's worth noting that Juneteenth - often referred to as "our country’s second independence day" - is a celebration of the day that the last enslaved African Americans were freed in Texas, not the day that the first were legally freed by President Lincoln’s proclamation. Thus, we are reminded that addressing racial inequity for some, but not all, is not enough. With this in mind, our march toward racial justice continues today.

At Orange Coast College, we are committed to creating an environment of inclusion and belonging for all OCC students, faculty, staff and administrators. Over the past year, as our nation has grappled with the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police, the call to address systemic racism has become urgent and has created a nexus for meaningful change.

As an institution we continue to make steady progress in moving forward our focus on anti-racism. We have done this in several ways, including through the work of our Equity and Inclusion Task Force, gathering data through a Districtwide campus climate survey, and by creating opportunities for all employees and students to engage in necessary dialogue aimed at creating understanding and working toward healing.

I am proud of the progress we have made over the past year, and I look forward to continuing this important work toward creating an environment that is equitable, diverse and inclusive for all.

Happy Juneteenth,
Angelica L. Suarez, Ph.D.