June 2023 Heritage Celebrations

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of June:

Heritage Month Celebrations:

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 US. 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 men, 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 events, programs, and initiatives to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the year. UConn Library has put together a Pride Collection and a LGBTQIA+ Community Wellness Guide, and UConn Health has put together a list of LGBTQ+ resources. UConn School of Social Work supports LGBTQIA+ community through the National SOGIE Center, as well as the Center of Excellence on LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity, which will hold a Pride Month Series on Native and Indigenous LGBTQIA+ youth.

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; through the Africana Studies Institute; and through UConn 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 and the African American Cultural Center.

National Immigrant Heritage Month: First launched in 2014 and first recognized by the President in 2022, National Immigrant Heritage Month celebrates immigrants and their countless contributions to the history and culture of the United States. The goal of this month is to provide people across the United States with an opportunity to honor their own heritage while also recognizing the diverse experiences that make the United States unique. This year’s theme is #CelebrateImmigrants, which highlights the stories of individual immigrants to explore the ways that diversity enriches our communities.

UConn is enriched by the immigrant communities that live, learn, and work across all five campuses, UConn Health, and UConn Law. UConn has several resources available to immigrant communities, including the Human Rights Institute’s partnership with nonprofit services like Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services and the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants. UConn Health also provides educational resources about providing care for refugee and immigrant patients.

Cultural and Federal Holidays:

Father’s Day (June 18th): 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, UConn Health is sponsoring a blood drive in Hartford, as well as a Juneteenth event at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington.

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.

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 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.

UConn is deeply concerned about the refugee crisis. UConn 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 get involved through the Huskies for Refugees club.

Religious Holidays:

The Martyrdom of Guru Dev Sahib (June 16th): This Sikh holiday celebrates the life of Guru Arjan Dev, one of the ten Gurus who pioneered Sikhism. It also commemorates his role as the first martyr for Sikhism. This holiday celebrates his life, and is honored by reading the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Hajj [Pilgrimage] (June 26th – July 1st): Hajj, or “pilgrimage” is one of the five pillars of Islam and a mandatory once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for all adult Muslims who are able. During Hajj, millions make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where they perform rituals to remind them that they are all equal before God and celebrate Islamic unity. Hajj is the most revered spiritual experience for Muslims.

Eid al-Adha (June 28th – July 2nd): Eid al-Adha is the second and holiest Islamic Eid festival of the year. Known as the “Festival of the Sacrifice” – or colloquially as “Big Eid” – Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Ibrahim (known as Abraham in the Christian and Jewish traditions) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah; before Ibrahim carried out the command, however, Allah produced a lamb for him to sacrifice instead. Traditions vary from place to place, but celebrations typically include congregational prayers at a mosque, the sharing of meat, gift-giving, and inviting members of other faiths to opportunities that better acquaint them with Islam and Muslim culture.

We welcome the celebration of each of these holidays on our campuses and encourage support for those requiring accommodations. You can find information and guidance about academic accommodations for religious observations on the Provost Office’s webpage.

To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the semester, please visit our events page at www.diversity.uconn.edu/events. ODI writes these letters in collaboration with our partners across the UConn system. If we inadvertently omitted a cultural or religious holiday, please let us know by emailing us at diversity@uconn.edu.


Anne and Frank

Anne D’Alleva
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Frank Tuitt
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer