Securing “the Blessings of Liberty”

Friday, June 16, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

As we trace the above 52 words that established the preamble to the United States Constitution, it is important to note that even after the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, the colonies did not gain true independence from Britain until 1783 and, even then, not all citizens were granted freedom. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 sought to remedy that. However, it was not readily honored until over two years later on June 19, 1865, Juneteenth, when General Order No. 3 was issued that enforced the Proclamation to the residents of Texas, freeing all remaining enslaved persons in the state.

For us academics, some challenges continue. Blacks continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields. Further, college completion rates of Black students are lower than those of other ethnic or racial groups: 34 percent of Black Americans have an associate degree or higher, compared with 46 percent of the general population.

Here at S&T, as I wrote last year, we have not fully achieved our aspirational goals of diversity and inclusivity as a university, although we have come a long way. I was honored this spring to meet one of the first two Black students at Missouri S&T, George Horne, who enrolled at S&T in 1950. Mr. Horne helped pave the way for many Black students to follow. I was delighted to call him on his 91st birthday and report to him that S&T’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter received NSBE Chapter of the Year honors at the organization’s annual convention.

Recently, we were able to host inspirational guest speakers such as Cynthia Chapple, founder of St. Louis-based Black Girls Do STEM, and peace activist Ken Nwadike Jr. My thanks goes to Courtney Jones, director of the Kummer Center for STEM Education, and Dr. Nicole Roberson, chief diversity officer, for providing STEM-Mi-STEM campers with a way to celebrate Juneteenth next week while they are on S&T’s campus.

Clearly, for African Americans who long suffered the indignities of subjugation, the process of liberation has been long and arduous, starting with emancipation, recognition as U.S. citizens, and civil and voting rights. For all these reasons, Juneteenth commemorates a significant occasion in our nation’s history, and, in fact, the occasion has been celebrated around the world in France, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Italy and the UK to name a few.

So for African Americans, and perhaps for all Americans, Juneteenth is a momentous day of freedom writ large, first articulated in our constitution over 200 years ago, as it stands as a milestone in the ongoing effort to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

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