Celebrating Juneteenth

Jun 18, 2020
By Michael Coates, CEB Chair

Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day – is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

The Committee on Evolutionary Biology applauds Juneteenth 2020, and acknowledges the profound importance of this holiday to UChicago’s Black community, and to all Black Americans.

We take this occasion, particularly following the horrifying events of the last few months, to unequivocally condemn systemic racism and the stubbornly enduring inequities that continue to place undue burdens on the Black community in America throughout our history.

Both as groups and as individuals, in the lab, in the field, in teaching, and in our professional societies, we must work to acknowledge racism and enhance and support diversity in all aspects of our professional life, from students to faculty.

Over the decades of its existence, the CEB has advocated and worked towards these aims, but clearly much more needs to be achieved:

  • We need to work more effectively to not only recruit individuals from underrepresented groups, but also to improve support systems to ensure their success and sense of belonging within our program, and within the wider STEM community.
  • We need to examine ourselves and our mentoring practices to ensure that all students receive and recognize the diverse kinds of support and training they require, for personal and professional development both within and beyond the limits of our Ph.D. program. 
  • We need to educate ourselves for the challenges of racial, cultural, and ethnic prejudice that lie ahead.

Further to this, in future years the CEB will mark Juneteenth in its calendar of events, and use this day as an opportunity to reflect on, and develop our response to, the enduring legacy and realities of racism in our own discipline, in STEM, as well as in larger society.