June 1, 2022

Dear Westminster Community,

Westminster College will recognize Juneteenth National Freedom Day for the first time in 2022, following the establishment of America's newest federal holiday in 2021 and the Utah State legislature’s approval to add Juneteenth to its list of state-observed holidays this year.

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to inform and ensure that enslaved Blacks were finally freed following the end of the Civil War. The troops’ arrival occurred two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late-19th century.


This year’s Juneteenth on-campus observance will include the holiday’s recognition in Utah over time and the effort to make Juneteenth an official state holiday in Utah. The program will feature a panel of educators, legislators, and community activists whose personal and professional experiences will enlighten our understanding, insight, and appreciation for America's newest federal and Utah's latest state holiday. The program will take place Tuesday, June 14 from noon – 1:30 p.m. in the Gore Auditorium. The panelists are:

  • Sandra Hollins, the first Black American woman elected to the Utah State Legislature and co-sponsored HB 238, the bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday in Utah
  • Michelle Love-Day, longtime Utah educator and creator of RISE Virtual Academy, an online weekly school to offer a rich, diverse literacy environment for Black students in Utah
  • Betty Sawyer, Utah community activist and head of the Ogden Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Juneteenth-inspired refreshments will follow the program.

Register to Attend

On-Campus Observance

Per Juneteenth’s designated holiday observance on June 19 of each year, if the holiday falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, it will be observed on the preceding Monday. If the holiday falls on a weekend, it will be observed the following Monday, resulting in a three-day weekend. Westminster’s official Juneteenth observance as a campus-wide paid holiday will begin in 2023. Summer term schedules will be created by the Registrar and academic schools, taking into account this new academic holiday. Westminster officially observes 10 of the 12 legal holidays in the state of Utah with paid days off. The two remaining legal Utah holidays are Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

For more information, contact Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Tamara N. Stevenson at tstevenson@westminsteru.edu.

Tamara N. Stevenson, Ed.D.
Interim Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer
Associate Professor, Communication