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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update – June 10

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This is part of a series of regular updates that Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier sends to the campus community.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

And before we all know it, the summer is here. Summer brings the opportunity to replenish our hearts, slow down, and review our priorities. Summer for me is a time to reconnect with family, celebrate each other, and be intentional about our time together. Every year my girls and I create a bucket list that includes trying new things, exploring new places, visiting old ones, and learning new skills. Engaging in the work of equity, inclusion, and justice is more than fighting systems and behaviors. It is also about not losing contact with communities and ourselves, or we will be pouring from an empty cup. 

Two celebrations that always make it to our bucket list are Pride Month and Juneteenth. These two celebrations intentionally carve out spaces to recognize excellence and joy, and acknowledge the shoulders we stand on. They bring communities together and remind us of the work done and needed. 

Pride Month. In this country and across the world individuals experience violence, inequities, and limited access to basic services just because of who and how they love, because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. What do you know about the first Pride march? The first Pride march was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. “The concept behind the initial Pride march came from members of the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO), who had been organizing an annual July 4th demonstration (1965-1969) known as the “Reminder Day Pickets” at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. At the ERCHO Conference in November 1969, the 13 homophile organizations in attendance voted to pass a resolution to organize a national annual demonstration, to be called Christopher Street Liberation Day.” (The Library of Congress). Below are some resources to learn and engage more during this month:

Juneteenth. On the evening of January 1, 1863, many people waited for the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. Once it did, people took to the streets to celebrate freedom and the change to come. However, this was not the case across every Confederate territory. It was not until June 19, 1865, that it was announced that all Black enslaved people were free. This day came to be known as Juneteenth. This is a day of honoring a painful history of our country. It is a moment where many African American and Black community members come together to share the joy, re-energize around the work, and care for each other. It is a time for the rest of us to learn about our past so we don’t repeat it and re-commit to creating change and working toward justice. Below are some resources to learn and engage more during this month:


Dr. María C. Pabón Gautier
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion