LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Public Affairs) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto on Friday announced that starting this coming academic year Juneteenth will be a university holiday.
“June 19th is a celebration of freedom. And it is a reminder that attempts to bring equality to all people have so often been met with opposition,” Capilouto told members of the UK Board of Trustees. “It is our responsibility to make sure we do all that we can to conquer each barrier. I hope it will become a moment to pause, to reflect, and a time that compels our community to act.”
Juneteenth — June 19 — marks the day in 1865 when enslaved Texans learned they were free, the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the old Confederacy. It occurred more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states in the heart of the Civil War.
Capilouto made the announcement Friday following the release of a multi-step action plan to increase the commitment to — and investments in — access and opportunity for Black students and communities of color on the UK campus.
The first phase of the action plan includes:
- Requiring cultural proficiency training for all faculty and teaching assistants; training on handling race discussions in the classroom; diversity and inclusion training for students prior to the start of the fall semester; and strengthening the diversity curriculum for UK 101.
- Earmarking funds for greater diversity faculty and staff recruitment.
- Creating a mini-internship program and developing a student advisory group to increase the pipeline toward careers in higher education.
- Empaneling a responsible speech committee (evaluate Creed and Code).
- Conducting a facilities audit as part of the development of a diversity/inclusivity master plan for the campus and creating a “percent for art fund” in which dollars for large capital construction projects would be earmarked to purchase diverse and inclusive art.
- Building out the development of — and consistency in policies around — diversity and inclusion officers within each UK college.
- Creating a research alliance — as UK did in response to the coronavirus — to study and develop strategies around the reduction of social and racial injustice and health disparities.
You can read more about the action plan and steps announced here: https://www.uky.edu/trustees/sites/www.uky.edu.trustees/files/ASAC-Presentation-June-2020-Updated-KH.pdf.