A Message from President Joel W. Martin
Combating longstanding, pervasive, and ongoing racism is essential work. It must occur every day if it is to be effective and impactful. It needs to involve all of us if we are to succeed in ridding our society of this scourge. That is why Wagner College will be suspending normal work on Friday, June 19, 2020, to recognize Juneteenth in an intentional and focused way. I am proud to share our programming with you on this page.
Our work comprises a live panel dialogue, curated self-guided reflections, explorations of our own biases, and the launch of a 19-week educational plan centered on race and injustice. It will be a robust day of education, awareness, and celebration: the start of deep and wide work to follow.
Below we provide resources for self-guided reflection. Among them, I encourage you to take the Harvard Implicit Association Test to gain a quick and confidential snapshot of how biases may be shaping your perceptions of others. This tool is not a perfect mirror, but it is one that is commonly used to prime reflection and it is readily available.
These efforts are the beginning, not the end, of a critical conversation and many actions to move us forward. The work toward becoming a more equitable, inclusive campus is extensive, but our commitment is unyielding.
Finally, I am pleased to share that Juneteenth will be recognized annually by the College as a day for our entire community to engage in learning and listening, as well as communing and recharging. We will put in the work to improve ourselves and our beloved Wagner.
Joel W. Martin
The celebration of Juneteenth by African Americans is historically associated with Galveston, Texas, in June 1865. Two months after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, five months after passage of the 13th Amendment and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery in Texas had yet to be abolished. On June 19, as a Confederate insurgency continued, Union Major General Gordon Granger, in command of 1,800 Union soldiers, proclaimed that “all slaves are free” in the state and that there would be “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
That day would come to be known as “Juneteenth.”
While the largely African American holiday would not formally be adopted by freedmen in Texas until the following year, its meaning was felt by black Americans across the South as Union forces emancipated nearly 4 million African American men, women, and children. The newly freed people rebuilt their communities based on liberty instead of bondage. Families that had been separated by sale and distance used their meager resources to reunite with loved ones. African American husbands and wives who had been prohibited under slavery from legally marrying solemnized their relationships before Union officials, formally legitimizing their children and defining their families as whites had.
During Reconstruction (1865-1877), African Americans began the task of educating themselves by creating schools and religious institutions, and black men set out to earn a fair wage to provide for their families. Many former slaves had even opted to change their names to reflect a future of freedom, thus rejecting the past by refusing to accept the surnames given by their previous owners.
But as African Americans began the process of defining freedom, Confederate insurrection still burned in parts of the southwest. From June 1865 until early 1866, the war to end slavery in Texas continued as Texans refused to emancipate their slave population of nearly 250,000 people. One eyewitness reported that slave owners “still claim and control [slaves] as property, and in two or three instances recently bought and sold them.” Many slave owners refused to free their slaves because, after generations of slave ownership, they were committed to the institution of black subjugation. Others would not free their slaves until they received compensation for the loss of their human property, while still others believed no constitutional amendment had been ratified abolishing the “Peculiar Institution.”
Almost a year after the Confederacy itself was defeated, slavery in Texas was finally vanquished. Only then did Texas freedmen and women formally celebrate the end of slavery with a celebration on June 19, 1866. Their commemoration was a solemn occasion where the formerly enslaved people remembered their hard-won freedom. Dressed in their Sunday best, they celebrated their liberty with parades and family gatherings. In the years after Reconstruction, the observance of Juneteenth by African Americans was honored as a way to remember emancipation
Rita Reynolds, Associate Professor and Chair of Wagner College’s History Department, earned an M.A. in African American Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. in African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is currently completing a manuscript for an upcoming monograph, Free and Insane in Charleston: Freedom and Divorce Among Free People of Color in Antebellum South Carolina.
Live Panel Discussion – Friday, June 19, 11:00 a.m.
A Juneteeth Celebration: Reflection, Rejoicement, Recommitment of the Black Life and Fight for Justice
- Panel Leadership
- Panel Participants
Self-Guided Reflections, Activities and Recommendations
Take the Harvard Implicit Association Test to gain a quick and confidential snapshot of how biases may be shaping your perceptions of others. This tool is not a perfect mirror, but it is one that is commonly used to prime reflection.
Members of the Wagner College faculty and staff from the Center for Intercultural Advancement curated a list of resources our community can take to further educate themselves about race, discrimination, and the Black experience. Many of the resources are available through Wagner’s Library, local libraries, or public archives. Below is a brief selection of highlights from the collection, or you can view the complete list in this document.
The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism By Robin DiAngelo
Just Mercy By Brian Stevenson
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum
How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance By Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin
Seeing White By Amy Eshleman
The Dangerous Mind: Unconscious Bias In Higher Education By Sam Lin-Sommer and Sebastian Lucek
The Complexity of identity: Who am I? By Beverly Daniel Tatum
Who Gets to Be Afraid in America? By Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
Microaggression in Everyday By Derald Wing Sue
I Am Not Your Negro: James Baldwin and Race in America Dir. Raoul Peck
Killer of Sheep Dir. Charles Burnett
Do the Right Thing Dir. Spike Lee
Fruitville Station Dir. Ryan Coogler
Just Mercy Dir. Destin Daniel Cretton
Podcasts and Online Videos
Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History, National Public Radio
Seeing White Podcast, Scene On Radio
Ear Hustle, Radiotopia
We have the power of our vote. Wagner College will elevate our voting registration campaigns and athletics will suspend team obligations on Election Day to encourage greater participation. Colleges in America are forums for diverse viewpoints and challenges to our own beliefs, and democracy thrives when there is vigorous debate.
All head coaches, full-time assistants and athletics administration will be asked to participate in a Diversity & Inclusion meeting with Ndidi Massay, Esq. on Friday June 19th at 9:00 am.
As a response to the senseless death of George Floyd and systematic racism in America, the Wagner College Athletics Department is committed to engaging in challenging and essential conversations around race, diversity, identities, implicit bias, privilege, equity, systematic racism, empathy and building inclusive teams.
This programming will kick off on Juneteenth with coaches and administrators and will continue throughout the 2020-2021 school year for our athletes, coaches and administrators. We will listen and learn so that we can foster the best environment for our student-athletes.
Ndidi Massay, Esq.
Ndidi is a seasoned diversity and inclusion executive who brings more than 25 years of strategic leadership and management to board rooms, classrooms, fields, courts and gyms. Her unique background in law, public policy, media and sports has shaped her body of work as an advocate of diversity, inclusion, safety and social justice.
Ndidi has worked with NYSAC, ABC, ESPN, NCAA, NFL and has firsthand experience in collegiate athletics as a former softball player at Northwestern, coach at Notre Dame and administrator/legal counsel/adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.
19 Minute Meditation
Find time in the day to focus yourself and remind yourself of who you are. Find music of your choice and allow yourself to think. When we meditate, we lower our stress levels, we get to know our pain, we connect better, we improve our focus, and we’re kinder to ourselves.
19 Minutes of Writing
Open up a notebook or a blank document on your computer and openly write for 19 minutes. Remove yourself from distractions (e.g. media, phones) and allow yourself to simply write. Once you are done, go back and read what you have written. What stands out to you? Why? How did you come to these thoughts?
19 Minutes Outside
Go outside! Spend 19 minutes sitting outside or even moving about your neighborhood. You can put in your headphones or just listen to the world around you. Let your mind wander!
Celebrate those in your life! Take time to text 19 people in your life and tell them how much you appreciate them. You may pick your close family and friends, or maybe someone who you have lost contact with. You can also consider drafting emails, calling or even sending a card or letter.
Want to go further? Create an Instagram story or post that celebrates those people in a public way. Appreciate the beauty in your relationships.
19 Minutes of Celebrating
Spend 19 minutes of your day celebrating life, freedom and who you are. This could be rewarding yourself with a much needed break, or divulging in your favorite food, or even throwing yourself and your loved ones a dance party. Give yourself the space to celebrate you and who you are.
Originating in athletics, the College is creating an ongoing campus wide 19-week education program that includes various presentations, lectures, dialogues, training (in-person and virtual) and builds upon our current Intercultural Awareness Workshops.
As part of Wagner College’s commitment to fostering greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the institution, the Division of Campus Life currently offers a training program for all first-year and transfer students designed to cultivate intercultural awareness and communication skills while enhancing understanding and connection through diversity. This training also focuses on increasing self-awareness while building intercultural leadership skills.
Expanding this work campus wide, we will partner with various partners in our community to assist in developing our 19-week education program in an effort to continue conversations and self-reflection in a sustained way to address race, diversity, identities, implicit bias, privilege, equity, systematic racism, intersectionality, and empathy.
As part of our re-commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we are updating our Diversity Strategic Plan and will publish it this fall.
Led by the Theatre Advisory Board, the goal of this event is to create a new kind of performative display for the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the Wagner College Theatre community — students, alumni, and faculty — will showcase art in multiple forms that have been helping them contribute to this movement, including singing a song, reading a poem, dancing, or other visual arts that they are creating then selling and donating to raise proceeds for BLM organizations.
TAB for Color of Change will take place next Friday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. EST on the platform StringYard. A link to join the event will posted when it is available.
Seeds of Change
On April 10, 2010, a group of Wagner College alumni gathered for a seminar to review the 1970 occupation of Cunard Hall by members of Black Concern, an African-American student organization, to pressure the college for changes promoting greater diversity on campus. During that seminar, the group screened the following 27-minute documentary, “Seeds of Change: Reflection of a Year of Student Activism, 1969-1970,” produced by alumnus and former Wagner College communications chief Brian Morris and edited by Miranda Fluhrer.