Let us live, feel and be together in Ubuntu. Let us celebrate Juneteenth!

Dear TGI Community –  let us celebrate Juneteenth and honor freedom! 

Today marks the first celebration of Juneteenth – the anniversary of the day that the Emancipation Proclamation reached the last U.S. state under confederate control to bring freedom to enslaved Africans.

We know the story of America is violent, hopeful, aspirational and complicated.

The Graduate Institute fosters holistic thinking and perspectives that help our community develop capacity together so we can hold multiple perspectives, build empathy, and live with ambiguity.

We learn and grow together both in the classroom, as well as with our families, our work colleagues, and in our home communities.

As we join with our Black siblings in remembrance and celebration today, we focus on freedom and hope.


Juneteenth band. Photograph by Grace Murray Stephenson of celebrations in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900.

It took two years for the Union army to reach all of the confederate states and declare liberation for the enslaved Africans there. Freedom wasn’t immediate, and relief wasn’t guaranteed. We know the history of African slavery in this country is traumatic, and African Americans, and Black Americans continue to be marginalized across all sectors of society. And yet, there was celebration in the streets.

That year and in the 156 years since, Juneteenth celebrations are a recognition of hope for a future that was different from the present, and are, in themselves, an act of resistance.

Today we remember together the pain and the suffering. And today we celebrate freedom and liberating futures.

Ubuntu is an African term that describes a new vision of humanity.

Here is how Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes Ubuntu:

“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

We encourage you to learn more about Black liberation in the U.S. by engaging with this reading list from the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center, for adults, and this one for kids and teens.

You can read scholarly articles, curated by the Journal Storage Digital Library, here.

Let us live, feel and be together in Ubuntu.

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