UC Adds Juneteenth to Calendar of Holidays

Quick Summary

  • This year’s observance in the UC system will be Monday, June 28
  • President Drake, Chancellor May reflect on Juneteenth’s significance
  • UC Davis Health is sponsoring Juneteenth Block Party in Sacramento
2 headshots
Michael V. Drake, left, and Gary S. May


Juneteenth will be added to UC’s slate of holidays, starting this year, President Michael V. Drake announced today (June 18), less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation declaring the day a federal holiday.

The name is derived from “June nineteenth” 1865, the date the Emancipation Proclamation finally took effect in Texas — 2½ years after the order by President Abraham Lincoln had freed enslaved people elsewhere. Freedmen in Texas subsequently began celebrating June 19 annually, and, as they emigrated to other parts of the country, the tradition went with them. Eventually Juneteenth came to represent the end of slavery throughout the country.

June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, so most federal employees were given today off — the first official Juneteenth National Independence Day.


With such short notice for the new holiday, UC in this first year will observe Juneteenth on Monday (June 28), before switching to the federally designated day in subsequent years. Most employees will have the day off (guidance has gone out to managers and supervisors.) Classes have been canceled; the Academic Senate has sent a message to instructors on how course content and scheduling can be adjusted to account for the loss of an instructional day, and instructors will inform students about any additional course changes.

UC Davis Health announced it does not have sufficient time to adjust clinical operations — so they will not change and clinics should not be canceling any patient appointments. More information is available in this article on the UC Davis Health website.

‘Historic moment’

President Drake said federal-holiday status for Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Freedom Day, “is an historic moment for our nation — 156 years in the making.”

Slavery persisted in Texas even after the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, ending the Civil War. Then, about 10 weeks later, on June 19, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led his Union troops into Texas to assert the federal government’s authority in announcing all slaves were free.

Thursday, after the bill-signing ceremony at the White House, Chancellor Gary S. May said in a statement that he was moved to see Juneteenth made a federal holiday. “It is a day that African Americans have long celebrated across the nation. ... While it is a day of joy, it is also a reminder of our nation’s history, how far we have come and how far we have to go.”

President Drake said in his message today: “As we approach June 19th, I invite you to join me in reflecting on our nation’s history, the horrors of centuries of bondage and the difficult road from liberation to equality.

“Let us resolve to build a future representing and lifted up by our ideals, our values and our best selves.”

RELATED CONTENT: Chancellor May’s 2020 message, Remember the Meaning of Juneteenth”
Graphic: "Celebrate Juneteenth Freedom Day"

Join the celebration

  • Juneteenth Block Party at 40 Acres A first-time event in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, where the public is invited for a day of art, music, food and entertainment in and around the 40 Acres retail complex, 35th Street and Broadway, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (June 19). Admission is free. Presented by St, Hope, a family of nonprofit organizations committed to revitalizing Oak Park through high quality public education and economic development, and sponsored in part by UC Davis Health, which will have a booth where employee volunteers will promote COVID-19 vaccinations and hand out gifts such as hand sanitizer and stress balls, while supplies last. Read more about the event in this news story from UC Davis Health.
  • Yolo County Juneteenth Watch a recording of this virtual event that was livestreamed on June 6. This year’s theme is “Still We Rise.” Chancellor May and Vickie Gomez from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are among the guests. Sponsors include the Office of Campus Community Relations.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556, dateline@ucdavis.edu; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932, kitaura@ucdavis.edu.

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