Juneteenth, which is short for “June Nineteenth,” is celebrated on June 19 each year to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S.
Mayo Clinic observed Juneteenth by lighting facilities in Arizona, Florida and Rochester and the health system in red, black and green.
These buildings were lighted at dusk on Saturday, June 19:
- Arizona: Mayo Clinic Hospital — Phoenix Campus
- Florida: Main entrance sign and the new parking garage
- Rochester: Plummer Building
- La Crosse: Cancer and Surgery Center Building
The story of Juneteenth
On June 19, 1865, after the Civil War had ended, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to share the news that the war was over and that slaves in the U.S. had been freed. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 declaring that on Jan. 1, 1863, the more than 3 million slaves held in Confederate territory were free. Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger arrived 2½ years later in Galveston to announce federal orders declaring that slaves in Texas were free.
For African Americans, Juneteenth is Independence Day.
Today, in a time of social unrest, Juneteenth is especially meaningful. For many African Americans, Juneteenth is a sobering day because just as Confederate soldiers delayed the freedom of the slaves until 1865, systemic racism is affecting Black people’s ability to accumulate wealth, have access to freedom, and be able to live in homes that allow them to live the American dream. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery while serving as a reminder of how freedom and justice in the U.S. are too often delayed for Black people.
Mayo Clinic looks to see how it can be part of solutions to promote social equity and justice.
Mayo Clinic supported several events in the communities that Mayo Clinic serves to celebrate Juneteenth.
“Juneteenth has always been a chance for the community to come together and celebrate,” says Barbara Jordan, a Mayo Clinic operations administrator who is a member of the Rochester branch of the NAACP. “We are excited as many folks will be joining us for their first post-pandemic event.”