To the UConn Community:
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to take this opportunity to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of June:
National Caribbean American Heritage Month: This heritage month was established in 2006 to create and disseminate knowledge about the contributions of Caribbean people to the United States. At UConn, we create and disseminate knowledge of Caribbean contributions, customs, and cultures through El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies and Homer Babbidge Library’s collection on Latin American and Caribbean Studies. UConn students, staff, and faculty can find more programming, resources, and spaces of belonging at the Puerto Rican / Latin American Cultural Center.
Father’s Day (June 19th): In the United States, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. While other countries have similar days of commemoration, dates and traditions may vary. In the US, Father’s Day was created in 1910 to complement Mother’s Day; its founder, Sonora Smart Dodd, wanted to honor her father, who raised six children as a widower. It was made into a federal holiday in 1972. This June, we honor all paternal figures, caregivers, and mentors whose contributions enrich our lives.
Flag Day (June 14th): Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the American Flag in June of 1777 and coincides with the birthdate of the American military in 1775. Though not a federal holiday, June 14th provides an opportunity to reflect on the ideals the flag stands for. In particular, it provides an opportunity to reflect on diversity, one of America’s founding ideals and greatest strengths.
It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made to preserve those ideals. The Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs (VAMP) provides student support services specifically for veterans, active service members, and their families attending UConn. Their services include certifying VA educational benefits, assisting students in their transition to life at UConn, and providing supplemental programs and activities to student veterans. VAMP works closely with the Center for Students for Disabilities, which has a wealth of resources for veterans regardless of ability status. VAMP also works closely with state-based Veterans Centers that provide fully confidential mental and behavioral health assistance.
Juneteenth (June 19th): Juneteenth, also known as America’s Second Independence Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is observed on June 19th, the day in 1865 that Union troops arrived in the last slave-owning community in the country to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation issued more than two years earlier. Though Juneteenth has been celebrated by African American communities since the late 1800s, it only became an official federal holiday in 2021, when President Biden made it the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. This year, the Connecticut legislature designated Juneteenth as an official state holiday, starting in 2023.
Juneteenth celebrates African American achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. Celebrations typically involve guest speakers or lectures to promote education and self-improvement; community elders who recount events in the past; prayer services; barbecues; and parades. More than anything, Juneteenth is about being in a supportive community. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion prefers not to limit celebrations of Black and African American communities to June; rather, we believe in celebrating the community year-round, including through the African American Cultural Center and the Africana Studies Institute, our leading spaces of community building and education about the history, culture, contributions, and experiences of people of African descent in the United States. This year, the UConn Library has put together excellent resources for education and community building in honor of Juneteenth. Make sure to check out their list of Juneteenth and Black cultural events near you!
Most of all, Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. It serves as a reminder of the moral stain of slavery on our country and raises awareness of the continued legacy of systemic racism and inequality. It also provides an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice; as a community, we must pledge to continue to lift every voice in support of the abolition of hate and racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression.
LGBTQIA+ Pride Month: June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month in the United States. Pride affirms the many identities within the LGBTQIA+ community while creating spaces for individuals to show up as their most authentic selves. This month celebrates LGBTQIA+ cultures, achievements, and activism while also remembering violence committed against this community and raising awareness about persistent inequalities facing every community. Pride was first celebrated in 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a watershed moment in modern activism in which LGBTQIA+ individuals – many of them Black and Brown – protested police brutality and shifted conversations about human rights in the United States. Instrumental to the Stonewall Uprising were Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the first Trans Women of Color to lead an organization in the United States. Johnson and Rivera worked dedicated their lives to social justice, amplifying the voices of People of Color and low-income Trans communities in the struggle for equality.
While the LGBTQIA+ movement is often portrayed as a movement of white gay males, Johnson and Rivera remind us that the movement’s social justice work was driven by Black and Brown activists. Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ activists like Johnson and Rivera have been instrumental in police reform, mental health awareness, advocating for sexual health and healthy attitudes about sexuality, and raising awareness about bodily rights and gendered and sexualized violence. Pride provides an opportunity for greater unity, visibility, and equality for the LGBTQIA+ community and for continuing to advocate for human rights. This month, we celebrate all that has been achieved in advocating for human rights but recognize that much remains to be done.
There is no singular way to celebrate Pride; dates, traditions, and length of celebrations change by location. Typically, celebrations involve marches, speeches, outdoor festivals, concerts, performances, and workshops. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion prefers not to limit celebrations of the LGBTQIA+ community to June; rather, we believe in celebrating the community year-round. The Rainbow Center has a number of events, programs, and initiatives to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, including the Rainbow Center Symposium in October; Platonic Stargazing (an event to introduce different identities on the asexual and aromantic spectrum) in October; the Drag Show in April; the Rainbow Center Talent Show in April; Sapphic Speed Dating; and free Hep C and HIV testing. We join in celebrating the LGBTQIA+ members of our community, and in working alongside them to continue advocating for human rights!
PRLACC’s 50th Anniversary (June 11th): Though not a federal holiday, June 11th commemorates the 50th anniversary of UConn’s Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, which improves the status of Latinx students and promotes awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the richness and diversity of Latinx individuals and Latin American cultures. Come join PRLACC for the Latin Dance Cabaret! See the Jorgensen’s website for the most up-to-date ticket and COVID policy information.
Shavuot (June 4th – 6th ): The Festival of Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the grain harvest for summer and commemorates the day G-d gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai seven weeks into the Exodus from Egypt. Shavuot occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (usually late May or early July), 50 days after the first seder meal of Passover. Celebrations include going to the synagogue to hear the 10 Commandments, having a festive meal with dairy foods, and staying up all night to learn the Torah. Readings from the Book of Ruth are emphasized for Shavuot.
World Refugee Day (June 20th): World Refugee Day honors the strength and courage of refugees. It encourages public awareness and support for people forced to flee their homelands because of war, terror, natural disaster, or other crises. Created by the United Nations in 2001 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UN’s 1951 Convention Related to the Status of Refugees, World Refugee Day is an opportunity to build empathy and understanding for refugees’ plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. This year’s focus is on the right to seek safety – every person on this planet has the right to seek safety, whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee. People forced from their homes should be treated with dignity.
The last few years have made the refugee crisis more urgent in the United States. In addition to violence that has caused Afghanis, Syrians, Ukrainians, and other peoples to seek safety in the United States, the hardships in coming to the US have increased, whether because of federal policies reducing the number of resettlement agencies or increased public resistance to accepting refugees due to fears about COVID. Seeking safety is only the first step in an arduous journey for most refugees, who have little say in where they are relocated to and have to wait long periods of time as they navigate complicated bureaucracies – often in settlement camps that are dangerous and ill-suited for long-term habitation. The last few years have made refugees especially vulnerable.
The University of Connecticut is deeply concerned about the refugee crisis. The University has several resources available to help those whose quest for safety led them to Connecticut, including UConn Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic and the Human Rights Institute’s partnership with nonprofit services like Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services and the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants. The Human Rights Institute leads UConn’s educational resources, including through the Human Rights Major for undergraduates. UConn Health also provides educational resources about providing care for refugee and immigrant patients. Students can also get involved through the Huskies for Refugees club.
We welcome the celebration of each of these observances on our campuses. To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the remainder of the semester, please visit our events page at www.diversity.uconn.edu/events.
Anne and Frank
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer