• By Uma Thangaraj

Mayo Clinic to light buildings to observe Juneteenth

June 18, 2021
the Rochester MN night skyline with the Plummer Building highlighted in mostly green and red lights in celebration of Juneteenth Day

Juneteenth, which is short for "June Nineteenth," is celebrated on June 19 each year to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. Mayo Clinic will observe Juneteenth by lighting facilities in Arizona, Florida and Rochester and the health system in red, black and green.

These buildings will be lighted at dusk on Saturday, June 19:

  • Arizona
    Mayo Clinic Hospital — Phoenix Campus
  • Florida
    Main entrance sign and the new parking garage
  • Rochester
    Plummer Building
  • La Crosse
    Cancer and Surgery Center Building
  • Southeast Minnesota
    Owatonna and Faribault buildings

The story of Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, after the Civil War had ended, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to share the news that the war was over and slaves in the U.S. had been freed. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 declaring that on Jan. 1, 1863, the more than 3 million slaves held in Confederate territory were free. Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger arrived 2½ years later in Galveston to announce federal orders declaring that slaves in Texas were free.

For African Americans, Juneteenth is Independence Day.

Today, in a time of social unrest, Juneteenth is especially meaningful. For many African Americans, Juneteenth is a sobering day because just as Confederate soldiers delayed the freedom of the slaves until 1865, systemic racism is affecting Black people's ability to accumulate wealth, have access to freedom and be able to live in homes that allow them to live the American dream. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery while serving as a stark reminder of how freedom and justice in the U.S. are too often delayed for Black people.