In June 2020, Gallaudet University officially recognized Juneteenth (June 19) as a permanent holiday for the first time. Since Juneteenth falls on Saturday, all employees will receive paid time off on Friday, June 18. 

Juneteenth is an annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The decision that all Black/African American slaves in the Confederacy had been freed did not reach Texas until June 19, 1865. On that day, Union Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to declare that all slaves were free.

The first Juneteenth celebration took place one year later, on June 19, 1866. Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday, in 1980. Today, nearly all states and the District of Columbia commemorate Juneteenth in some way. 

Gallaudet University is proud to recognize this day. We will do so in several ways, including a trivia game, a webinar, an individual and team step competition known as the Bison Journey, and robust social media messaging.

Of particular note is the Bison Journey, a three-month step competition in which individuals and teams work together to amass 6,191,865 steps. The total number of steps resembles Juneteenth, 6/19/1865. This Journey symbolizes the struggle for emancipation from the evil of chattel slavery. 

The Bison Journey is designed for individuals or teams of not more than four people per team. Individuals and members of teams will walk roughly 11,217 steps per day for three months, from June 19 at 12:01 a.m. local time to September 19 at 11:59 a.m. Eastern Time. Team members may run, swim, or bicycle to attain the same level of activity. Individuals and teams are encouraged to use activity trackers or smartphones, and must submit weekly progress reports. The top individuals and teams will be publicly recognized on September 20.

The Bison Journey is sponsored by the Department of Athletics, in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Relations; the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; the Office of University Communications, the Black Student Union, and the Center for Black Deaf Studies. 

Come join the Bison Journey! Register at this link.

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