Commemorating Juneteenth: A message from Dean Julia M. Ritter

June 19, 2024

Today, USC Kaufman joins the wider university community to observe Juneteenth, a national holiday commemorating the day the Union army arrived in Texas to liberate the state’s enslaved population on June 19, 1865.

Juneteenth came nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It is a startling reminder of how Black Americans remained illegally deprived of their freedom and dignity in spite of the government’s proclamation that declared all enslaved people free.

We must always remind ourselves of past injustices. And we must also recognize progress; Juneteenth was in fact a day of jubilation, and we honor that moment by continuing the fight for racial equality and celebrating the triumphs of Black Americans.

This July, USC Kaufman will be making its first-ever East Coast tour. Our first stop is the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts, on July 24. Later that same week, we head to the Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre at Boston University. The program for both stops includes four pieces of choreography, three of which have been created by acclaimed Black artists in our field with strong ties to Kaufman – Kyle Abraham, Hope Boykin, and Nina Flagg. In the fall of 2024, Kaufman will present premieres by four other accomplished innovators: Darrell Grand Moultrie, Micaela Taylor, and full-time faculty members Moncell Durden and Saleemah E. Knight.

The Kaufman community is united in its tireless dedication to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive school. Today, we remind ourselves to keep going — to celebrate freedom and continuously pursue absolute equality. Wishing everyone an impactful day of reflection.


Julia M. Ritter
Dean, USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance