Vanderbilt celebrates Juneteenth with faculty discussion, educational events

Vice Chancellor for Outreach, Inclusion and Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer for Vanderbilt University, André L. Churchwell hosted a discussion with faculty members about the history and importance of Juneteenth in observance of the federal holiday.  

Although slavery formally ended in the U.S. with the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, Texas was the last state to enforce the law. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, with 2,000 Union soldiers to announce that slavery was officially over in the state. An estimated 250,000 people still were enslaved in Texas at the time.   

To reflect on the significance of Juneteenth, Churchwell sat down with Phillis Isabella Sheppard, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor and professor of religion, psychology and culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School and the graduate Department of Religion, who is the first African American woman to be promoted to full professor at the Divinity School and serves as the inaugural director of the James Lawson Institute for the Research and Study of Nonviolent Movements at Vanderbilt, and Rosevelt L. Noble, ’98, ’03, assistant dean of residential colleges, director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, faculty head of Stambaugh House and senior lecturer in sociology. 

Watch the conversation for their insights and to learn more about the importance of Juneteenth to the past, present and our shared future.  

In addition to the conversation, on June 16 Noble and the Black Cultural Center hosted Vanderbilt’s annual event celebrating the holiday. “Juneteenth: Celebration of Freedom” featured several Black-owned food trucks, the rhythmic sounds of Nature’s Drummers, a DJ and numerous interactive and educational games. This year’s event was co-sponsored by the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Auxiliary Services (Campus Dining), the Association of Vanderbilt Black Faculty and Staff, the Department of African American and Diaspora Studies, Vanderbilt Student Affairs, the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity, the School of Medicine Basic Sciences and Vanderbilt University Police Department. 

See photos of the event below: