Published June 17, 2024

The 51勛圖 held a flag-raising ceremony on Monday, June 17, in recognition of Juneteenth, the oldest national holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved Texans finally received word of their freedom – six months after Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery throughout the United States and two and a half years after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Juneteenth flag, created in 1997 by Ben Haith, is rich in symbolism signifying liberty, freedom, and a bright future for all. The flag depicts a white star surrounded by a starburst, which represents Texas, the freedom of Black Americans in all states, and the new beginnings awaiting them. A curved line behind the star illustrates a new horizon, and red, white, and blue colors reflect the United States flag as a reminder that enslaved people and their descendants are, and always have been, Americans.

Juneteenth serves as a crucial opportunity for schools and families to educate students and communities about the ongoing struggles for racial equality faced by Black Americans. It is a day to acknowledge the suffering caused by slavery and that the battle for racial equality continues today. Juneteenth encourages reflection on the complex history of the United States and a commitment to building a more just and equitable future.

The County Office of Education has recognized and celebrated Juneteenth since it became a federal holiday in 2021. Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee and the San Mateo County Board of Education have passed resolutions for the past few years, , recognizing Juneteenth and encouraging all schools and families to take time to observe the holiday as a celebration of the resilience of Black Americans and an opportunity for education about the true history of this country. The County Office of Education established Juneteenth as a paid holiday beginning in 2022 and has  and offered opportunities for employees, students, and partners to deepen their understanding of Juneteenth, acknowledge the ongoing struggles of Black Americans, and work towards a more equitable and racially just society.

“This week, we honor the resilience and brilliance of Black Americans who have continuously fought for freedom despite facing systemic racism,” said San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee. “Juneteenth serves as a powerful beacon reminding us that our collective journey for racial justice is ongoing and takes all of us. Let’s renew our commitment each day to dismantle the barriers of systemic inequity that hinder the progress of Black students, families, and communities. Together, let's forge a future driven by equity, justice, and opportunity for all.”

Flying the Juneteenth flag is one way the County Office of Education demonstrates its support for Black students and community members in San Mateo County. The County Office of Education also held its inaugural Afrofuturism Student Conference in April to provide a supportive environment where Black students could build community and explore their potential while envisioning a brighter future. The organization has doubled down on its efforts to foster a more anti-racist and equitable education system and continues to act on its commitments to disrupt inequitable practices, improve outcomes for underserved students, educate itself, and center the voices of historically marginalized communities.

The County Office of Education will fly the Juneteenth flag at all its sites through Friday, June 21. In addition, all sites will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, in observance of the holiday.