A Juneteenth Message

Dear Members of the Law School Community,

Today, we celebrate Juneteenth, marking 155 years since news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, the last state in which people remained enslaved. The Wayne Law community honors the generations of enslaved people who withstood horrific atrocities. The significance of Juneteenth cannot be overstated. Recent events serve as solemn reminders of how far we still have to go in fighting anti-Blackness and achieving racial equality.

Over the last two weeks, I have spent much time with students, faculty, and staff discussing how the Law School can enact and contribute to meaningful and lasting change. Those conversations have generated a range of ideas for making an impact both within and beyond the Law School, and I want to thank everyone who has participated in them so far. I especially want to thank the Black Law Student Association and its executive board, not only for their constructive letter but also for their inspirational and collaborative leadership as we work toward change together.

I will be having many more conversations in the weeks ahead, and you will continue to hear from me and other members of our community, as well as to receive notices about events and initiatives in our regular weekly communications emails. In the meantime, as you celebrate and reflect on the importance of Juneteenth and of the hard work still undone, I want to highlight the following events, materials, and workshops:

  • At noon on Thursday, June 25, the Law School, the Keith Center, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will co-host “George Floyd in America: Black Detroiters on George Floyd.” This online event is the first in a series and will discuss the murder of Mr. Floyd and the nationwide protests that have followed. Register online and submit your questions in advance.
  • With thanks to BLSA for the recommendation, I urge you to read about The People’s Action and the work they are doing to spur change in Detroit and across the country. I also suggest exploring the new Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project, which contains valuable resources and provides an initial framework for engaging with anti-racism work. And I am grateful to the Student Board of Governors for compiling these extensive anti-racism resources that cover everything from mental health to petitions.
  • If you have not yet had the opportunity to attend any of the “What’s Going On?” programs presented by the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement (OMSE), I encourage you to do so. They include workshops and conversations surrounding racism, inclusion, equity and social justice. For more information, email omse@wayne.edu.
  • We are working with OMSE and Dr. Marquita Chamblee, Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for the University, to schedule facilitated conversations and trainings for the Law School community starting this summer. We will be in touch within the next several weeks with more details.

The road ahead is long, and the conversations are just beginning. By pushing forward together, we can create and sustain real change in our community.


Richard A. Bierschbach
Dean and Professor of Law

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