Vanderbilt to observe Juneteenth with paid staff holiday

Vanderbilt staff will receive paid holiday on Monday, June 19, in observance of federal holiday commemorating end of slavery in United States   

Vanderbilt University will recognize Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for all university staff in 2023 and beyond, and, beginning in 2024, the university will not hold classes on June 19.  

The day was first recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation to make the day a state holiday earlier this month.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Although slavery formally ended in the U.S. with the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, Texas was the last state to put the proclamation into practice. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, with 2,000 Union soldiers to announce that slavery was officially over. An estimated 250,000 people still were enslaved in Texas at the time. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery when it was ratified in December 1865.    

Vanderbilt will observe Juneteenth as part of the university’s continuing commitment to forge a more inclusive and welcoming campus community, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. 

“Recognizing Juneteenth pays tribute to a crucial moment in American history,” he said. “It is a deeply significant milestone in our shared past and an opportunity for all of us to pause and reflect—not only on our nation’s history, but also on how we can work in the future to bridge the divides that still separate us.” 

Staff whose roles require them to work on June 19 will receive an alternate date off at their manager’s discretion.