Saturday, May 07, 2022

Penn State to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth as holidays

Penn State will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the Juneteenth National Independence Day as official University holidays beginning in 2023, the University announced today (May 6).

“Making these two significant days official University holidays is part of our continuing efforts to align Penn State’s policies with our values in diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Having these recognized as official University holidays will provide students, faculty and staff the opportunity to observe and honor these holidays in their own unique manner.”

For a number of years, Penn State has observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day by canceling academic instruction to allow students and faculty to participate in service activities, observances and festivities. The holiday recognizes the birthday, life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and is celebrated on the third Monday of January.

Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19 and is sometimes called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, recognizes the end of slavery in the United States and commemorates the freeing of 250,000 African American slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. The holiday has been celebrated in the African American community since 1866. It was officially made a federal holiday in 2021 and became an official Pennsylvania holiday on June 19, 2019.

“These are important holidays for all of us to reflect on Black experiences in American history and celebrate the progress that has been made and those who have made that progress possible,” said Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for Educational Equity. “We still have work to do, and I hope that by celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth in the Penn State community we can continue to work together to advance the ideas that they commemorate.”

The updated policy will give Penn State students faculty and staff the day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth, and will not impact other University holidays or breaks.

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