This Saturday, June 19, we honor Juneteenth: a holiday commemorating the end of the enslavement of people of African descent in the U.S. Until recent years, Juneteenth was scarcely recognized outside of predominantly African-American communities, but it is an important testament to the resilience and strength of a community that persevered—despite every attempt to deny their humanity.
Above all, Juneteenth is a celebration, but it also serves as a sobering reminder. With profound inequities still entrenched in so many aspects of our society—from healthcare to education to policing and the legal system—we as Georgetown and as a nation still have much work to do to rectify the legacies of enslavement and segregation.
As we join President DeGioia and the Georgetown community in observing Juneteenth, I encourage all our members to take this opportunity to learn and reflect. How might we advance racial justice not only at SCS, but also in our everyday lives? How might we serve as better allies for marginalized communities? I invite you to take a look at the following resources for further reflection and discussion:
Georgetown Library Anti-Racism Toolkit: This toolkit can serve as a launch point for further study and can also help inform discussions about race and inclusion. Structured around such themes as systemic racism in education, criminal justice, environmental racism, and digital security, it provides a compilation of relevant books, courses, articles, and other resources.
Georgetown Reflects on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation: The date of June 19, 1838 marked the sale of enslaved people by Fr. Thomas Mulledy and the Maryland Jesuits to Henry Johnson and Jesse Beatty of Louisiana. A long-term and ongoing commitment, Georgetown seeks to more deeply understand its role in the injustice of slavery, and pursues a path of memorialization and reconciliation through engagement with members of the Descendant community, new initiatives, and learning and research.
SCS Mission in Motion Blog: Over the past year, the SCS Mission in Motion blog has raised awareness and sparked thoughtful discussions about advancing racial justice at SCS and beyond. Under the leadership of Jamie Kralovec, associate director for mission integration at SCS, the blog has become a focal point for conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and regularly invites various members of the SCS community for one-on-one reflections.
I fully understand that initiating dialogue around racism, equity, and inclusion is often difficult and uncomfortable—yet progress would not be possible without it. At SCS, over the last year we have taken momentous steps forward: such as establishing the Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Council (DEBIC); launching new programs in which diversity, equity, and inclusion values are thoroughly integrated; and finally, facilitating Listening Circles and forums of open dialogue with all community members. As dean it remains my utmost priority to ensure that principles of racial justice are embedded in our management and academic cultures.
In honoring Juneteenth, ultimately I hope we will also renew our commitment to work together in advancing racial justice at Georgetown and beyond.
Kelly J. Otter, PhD
Dean, School of Continuing Studies