Juneteenth Celebration 2022 President's Welcome

June 21, 2022

Dr. Thomas M. Evans, president, addresses students, faculty, staff and community members to the University's second-annual Juneteenth celebration.

Good evening, everyone. Thank you all for joining us for UIW’s Juneteenth celebration.

As you know, Juneteenth is named for the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were told that they were free – this took place more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today marks our second year gathering as a community certainly to celebrate, but also to listen, learn and reflect on what Juneteenth means to us and to one another. To do just this, our hosts have once again created this wonderful opportunity to share their voices and welcome others to share theirs.

I would like to thank the As One We Will student organization, Mission and Ministry, the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability, UIW Athletics, and our faculty and staff who organized this event and invite us all to take part.

While today’s event took many hands to put together, this was largely a student-led initiative. Our students saw an opportunity to bring our university community together with our city community and invite us to learn from each other. As a result, they have created what I hope will become a long-standing UIW tradition.

In preparing for today’s event, I was reminded of a quote from Pope Francis that, I think, captures my feelings so well. He said:

“Young people speak to us and challenge us, they make us realize the lights and shadows of our community, and with their enthusiasm they encourage us to give responses in keeping with our times.”

In these challenging times, I am proud that our students – and indeed all of us here – are committed to shining a light and to continue listening and learning.

Before we move on to the rest of our celebration, I want to take the opportunity to encourage YOU to keep speaking up, to keep shining a light amid shadows and to keep inspiring those around you to do the same. By doing so, you help to build a more just and better world. This is our Mission; and I could not be prouder to see it come to life in this way.

Thank you again to our students and organizers, our extended community and everyone with us today.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!