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BREADCRUMB

NDPMA TO CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH

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June 16, 2022

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Notre Dame to host a special Juneteenth celebration for faculty and staff on June 20. It will feature a presentation by alum Dr. Jade Burns NDP'98, who will speak about the newest federal holiday and its important place in American history.

Dr. Jade (Curry) Burns, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC, NDP'98, currently is a professor at the University of Michigan.


Juneteenth, officially Juneteenth National Independence Day, and also known as, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day and Black Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The day was recognized as a federal holiday last June when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

Juneteenth's commemoration is on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.

For Kala Parker NDP'00, Notre Dame's director of diversity and inclusion, Juneteenth is much more personal than just another federal holiday. 

"As we gather, eat and celebrate, I also want to continue sharing the beautiful story of hope, faith, and resilience of my own family with my children, hoping that they are able to share our history with their own children someday," she said.

It's also an opportunity for Parker to share a special NDPMA Juneteenth celebration on Monday, June 20, with fellow faculty and staff. She said the event will include lunch for attendees and feature a discussion by Dr. Jade (Curry) Burns, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC, NDP'98, currently a professor at the University of Michigan, who will speak about the origin of Juneteenth and why it was such a pivotal moment in history. (More on Burns is below.)

We contacted Parker recently about the event, the meaning of Juneteenth, how it should be celebrated and why the signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law was so important.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Kala Parker NDP'00 is Notre Dame's director of diversity and inclusion.


QUESTION: Is this the first time NDPMA has hosted a formal event surrounding Juneteenth? And if so, why this year? Also, who besides certain faculty and staff have been invited to the June 20 event?

PARKER: You are correct. It is the first time that Notre Dame is hosting a Juneteenth celebration. As our nation's newest national holiday, we wanted to provide the staff a chance to come together in a festive way and learn more about why this is a day for all Americans to celebrate. At this time, the celebration is only for NDPMA teachers and staff, but in future years, we hope to open it up to anyone in the Notre Dame community who would like to celebrate along with us.

Q: Dr. Burns recently earned the first annual Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) Racial Justice and Health Equity Award, which supports research and program evaluation focused on ‎racial justice and health equity within adolescent health and medicine. Is there anything you'd like to add about her from perhaps a more personal perspective?

PARKER: I am extremely excited to hear Jade speak about the origin of Juneteenth and why it is a celebratory day for all of us. She graduated two years before I did, but we cheered together during my freshman and sophomore years. She was a wonderful, mission-led student who turned into an amazing adult dedicated to giving back to communities in need.

Q: Although it's slowly changing, outside of the Black community, Juneteenth may not be as widely known. Now that the president has made it a federal holiday, do you hope that it will become more broadly recognized? 

PARKER: I certainly hope so. While as a country we celebrate our independence and freedom from British rule on July 4th, it was generally not recognized that all Americans were not free when the American Revolution ended in 1783. The addition of Juneteenth as a national holiday acknowledges the additional 80 years it took for the Emancipation Proclamation to be issued by President Lincoln, as well as the 2-1/2 years it took to spread the word to the western-most state under Confederate control, Texas. Specifically, the date, June 19, acknowledges the day that Union soldiers notified the final 250,000 enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. Juneteenth is not meant to replace Independence Day; it truly marks the nation's second Independence Day.

Q: Do you think it's more a holiday of joy or solemnity and why?

PARKER: For most families who celebrate it, it's a day of joy. In the same way that July 4th is a celebration of independence after a war that took hundreds of thousands of lives, Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of more than 400 years of enslavement, family separation, and brutality toward fellow Americans. Both of these celebrations of freedom represent times of growth, coming together, and moving forward for our nation.

Q: How do you think people in our school community and beyond should recognize the holiday? 

PARKER: As with any other holiday, families get to make it their own, perhaps starting their own traditions. For my own family, I would love to share our family tree and the rich history of our family — which can be traced as far back as 1808 to my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, a North Carolina plantation owner who fathered a child with a slave in 1826 who would become my great-great-great-great grandmother and the author of our family legacy. As we gather, eat and celebrate, I want to continue sharing the beautiful story of hope, faith and resilience with my own children, hoping that they are able to share our history with their own children someday.

Q: For those who attend on June 20, what do you hope will be the takeaway from it?

PARKER: My hope is that attendees will leave our Juneteenth celebration knowing not only the purpose of the day, but also why it is not just for African-Americans. It is all-inclusive. Everyone should be able to see and celebrate themselves as a part of our nation's history.


More about Dr. Jade Burns:
Dr. Jade Burns is a clinical expert on pediatric and community-based healthcare. She has more than 15 years of experience working as a clinician, consultant and researcher in a variety of clinical, community-based and academic settings. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. 

Her research focuses on innovative approaches using community-engaged research and technology (e.g., social media, messaging, digital spaces) to increase access to preventative health services for adolescents and young adults in community health centers. Burns’ expertise in clinical practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner is adolescent health care, family planning, health promotion and HIV/STI prevention. Her secondary area of interest is improving nursing practice and training programs in underserved areas. In addition, she maintains close collaboration with a variety of community partners within Detroit and serves on a myriad of nursing and non-nursing organizations, and is a proud board member of Detroit Teen H.Y.P. E (Helping Youth by Providing Education), a program that has reached more than 35,000 Detroit-area youth with programming designed to help prepare them for the world, and Connect-2-Protect, a coalition of advocates who care about preventing HIV in youth and beyond. 

Burns holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and nursing (BS/BSN) from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science degree in nursing (MSN-pediatric nurse practitioner, primary care) from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing from the University of Michigan. She is an alum of Notre Dame Prep, Class of 1998, and currently resides in Canton, Mich., with her husband, Robert Burns, and sons Robert II and Cade Burns.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.