Carnegie Mellon University

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June 19, 2020

Juneteenth Student Reflections

Please join us at the Tepper School as we celebrate Juneteenth!

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, but, unaware of General Lee’s surrender and due to a holdout in the confederacy, it took two more years for the news to reach Texas. On June 18, 1865, Union Army General Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the abolition of slavery. The next day, the last enslaved Africans were finally liberated.

Juneteenth became a more widely known celebration at the Poor Peoples March in 1968. After six difficult weeks of occupation and protest in Washington, D.C., leaders of the March chose June 19 to cap off the campaign with a celebration of emancipation. Texas was the first state to declare June 19th as a state holiday in 1980 and since then, 46 more states have followed suit, including Pennsylvania.

Our continued commitment to education includes providing resources to help support diversity, equity, and inclusion within our community. Recognizing this day in history is part of our school’s journey to learn about Black history and deliver a call to action.

A few Tepper students offer their reflections on Juneteenth, below.

Kamari Purcell, MBA Class of 2021

Juneteenth represents to many the end of slavery but it does not represent the end of oppression of black people.

Many blacks were unable to have similar economic opportunities to their white counterparts and returned to slavery by a different name in sharecropping. From then on we see the battle to truly become equal that is largely forgotten by the history books.

Look up the Colfax Massacre, the Wilmington Massacre, Atlanta Massacre, Elaine Massacre, Rosewood Massacre, and the Tulsa Massacre. Check out the lynchings, Sunday church bombings, and the assassinations of prominent black figures. Reflect on the long list of black names that were senselessly murdered at the hands of the police or "heroic white civilians.".

The violence against black “Americans” has long been hidden or dismissed. However, finally, the rest of the HUMAN population seems to finally be catching up that being black in America has long been a crime but they will no longer sit on the sidelines in silence. We shouldn’t have to have this conversation that people deserve basic human rights but as we see #LynchWatch is starting to trend, here we are. Make your voice heard.

This Juneteenth, please remember that freedom and the American Dream is a right for ALL, yet has been denied to generations of black people. Remember that we are doctors, lawyers, neighbors, caretakers, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, but above all, we are human beings. Is it so hard to treat us as such?

Olasubomi Adesoye, MBA Class of 2021

Juneteenth is a celebration of Black history and freedom in the constant struggles of history and, unfortunately, the continual opposition to racial equality.

Celebrating Juneteenth allows us to acknowledge the progress and process of the continued fight for black liberation and it is marked by reflecting and learning through historical storytelling from books, movies, and attending events. Happy Juneteenth everyone.

Ellen Noh, MBA Class of 2021


This is the word that comes to my mind when I think of Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter Movement. While a milestone, Juneteenth only represented the beginning of progress toward an equal and fair country. Just as slaves in Galveston, Texas remained enslaved two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, we find ourselves at an overdue reckoning of racial injustice. This progress has been gradual and frustrating, culminating in the collective efforts of BLM.

To me, supporting BLM is as simple as supporting all Americans’ inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights (that we all tend to take for granted) have eluded black Americans for centuries. The certainty of seeing a loved one return from a jog or a trip to Wendy’s should not be considered a privilege. And yet, for them it too often is.

Admittedly, I was unaware of Juneteenth or BLM until recently. The more I learn, the more I realize that being a minority doesn’t make you an expert of all minority experiences. Racism is not a black vs. white issue. It’s an issue for everyone.

Educate yourself. Take a hard look in the mirror and be ready to cringe at your past/current self. (I did.) The privilege of avoiding conversations about race comes at far too great a cost. So get political. Never stop fighting. Because this is a worthy fight — and long overdue.

James Summers & Carlos Cabre, Undergraduate Class of 2021, Co-Presidents of the Black Latino Business Association

Over the past month, we have witnessed millions of people throughout this country take a stand for what is right. More than 400 years of senseless oppression and violence against the Black community has finally gotten to the point where we can no longer be silent, where we can no longer look the other way.

The Black Latino Business Association is committed to providing a safe environment for students to learn about business amongst their peers and more importantly, to be in the company of one another where we can talk about anything. 


We encourage everyone to take the time to learn how best to help the Black Lives Matter Movement either financially or simply by becoming better educated.

We hope that one day, we can finally get to a place where every person will be seen as equal and no person will need to fear for their life simply because of the color of their skin.

Rebecca Hester, MBA Part-Time Online Hybrid Class of 2022

Black Lives Matter. It is every individual’s responsibility to provide support to Black people in the way we ourselves have been supported, but more importantly in the ways they need and deserve to be supported.

We must stand up and continue our efforts to fight for justice, equality, safety, and human rights for Black lives of ALL genders. We must continue to elevate the voices of those who too often go unheard and value the strong contributions of Black people in all professions and spaces, not solely as diversity leaders.


The conversations across the country have been going for a long time and the majority of people are FINALLY listening – universities, companies, individuals. This is just the beginning supportive step.

Everyone must be held accountable for their pledged support and it will take convicted individuals to ensure continued action and change. You are that individual. I am that individual. Black Lives Matter.


Jay Park, MBA Class of 2021

Juneteenth is certainly a day that should be celebrated, but it is also a reminder of how much growth we have left in us. It is extremely important that we all recognize that social injustices toward people of color are committed every day, whether we witness them or not.

Our generation has the chance to move our society forward through compassion for our black brothers and sisters during these difficult times and the support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

We need to maintain a dialogue about this so, as an MBA student leader, I vow to create a safe space for conversations about race and inequality.

I hope that we, as the Tepper community, can continue to learn and grow from one another and eventually pass along this culture to any future organizations that we join.