Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Over the past few weeks, we have collectively experienced many expressions of unity and commitment born out of the profound human injustices and racism that have shaken our nation to its core. Tomorrow, June 19, we have the opportunity to acknowledge and reflect upon a period in our history that molded and continues to shape our society.

Juneteenth is the oldest commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally heard that the Civil War had ended and learned of their emancipation.

Virginia has marked Juneteenth with proclamations and other celebrations, but the date has not previously been designated a state holiday. Governor Ralph Northam announced that this year, Friday, June 19 will be observed as a state holiday and that he intends to mark Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday. Tomorrow is a proud first for our institution.

All are welcome to join health system leadership in acknowledging, commemorating and celebrating Juneteenth Friday, June 19, 2020 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Zoom. Learn more about the history of Juneteenth with special guests Janine Bell and J. Plunky Branch.

Additionally, a special art exhibit courtesy of the Black American Artists Alliance of Richmond will be available to the public from 1:00 to 5:00 in the hospital’s second floor cafeteria on Friday. It is asked that all wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines.

This holiday provides an opportunity to reflect with family and friends on advancing freedom and equality for all people. As responsible humans, we are called to scrutinize and transform our society’s past injustices, unequivocally repudiating all racism, oppression and discrimination of any type. With your ongoing feedback, which is in process, as educators, researchers and healers, we are committed to translating our collective recommendations into actionable steps that as we implement together will move us all to a better place.

By learning from our past, we can be and do better in our future.


Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Interim CEO, VCU Health System, and Senior Vice President, VCU Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System