Dear Salem Community,
It is with hope and contemplation that I greet you today. This Sunday, June 19 marks 157 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced, freeing the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas from bondage. More than 1,000 miles northeast of what became known as Juneteenth, the Reverend Seth G. Clark, 10th Regiment, Ohio Cavalry read North Carolina’s General Orders 32, announcing the freedom of enslaved African Americans from the pulpit of St. Philips Moravian Church. Located just steps away from Salem Academy and College, St. Philips Moravian Church is the oldest standing African American church in North Carolina.
As I reflect on this pivotal moment in history, I grapple with Salem Academy and College’s history with enslaved African Americans and the institution’s role in slavery. The important work to discover the relationship between the two was completed by numerous individuals from the Salem Community and The Committee on the History of Salem Academy and College created in spring 2017. The committee reached a milestone in its research in the spring of 2018 and its final recommendation resulted in the creation of The Commission on Slavery and Its Legacy at Salem Academy and College. On November 22, 2019, The Commission was renamed the Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation. Anna Maria Samuel was an enslaved girl from Bethabara who entered the Older Girls’ Choir in Winston-Salem and began living in the Single Sisters’ House on campus. To learn more about the Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation, visit: www.SalemAcademyAndCollege.org/ams.
Devastating hate crimes like the Buffalo shooting are disheartening reminders that the road to equality and equity may take longer than we want and take action for, but I am yet hopeful that the journey we are on will lead to true freedom in every sense of the word. It is that same hope coupled with action that has guided our efforts to create a distinct, diverse and inclusive campus culture. In the year ahead, I plan to partner with and work alongside of you to bring this to pass. I will follow up with ideas for you to share your input.
On Monday, June 20, the institution will be closed to commemorate Juneteenth. I invite you to also reflect and rejoice in the progress we have made.
Summer J. McGee, Ph.D.