Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at OUWB featured at Juneteenth celebration
An image of Dr. Bailey greeting guests after her speech
Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Community Engagement, greeted attendees of the Juneteenth event after her presentation.

An OUWB dean was among local dignitaries who took part in a Juneteenth celebration held Monday in downtown Auburn Hills.

Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Community Engagement, spoke at the event alongside Michigan House Rep. Brenda Carter, D-Pontiac, and Auburn Hills Mayor Pro Tem Emeritus VeRonica Mitchell.

About 50 people attended the event held at the Auburn Hills Riverside Park Pavilion, and hosted by the Rochester Area Democratic Club.

Bailey and the other speakers talked about the importance of the day that is now a national holiday and commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. Bailey also sang the national anthem.

“June 19, 1865, marks a unique day in history for Black Americans to be able to celebrate and have it recognized as a federal holiday,” said Bailey prior to speaking. “It’s extremely important for me to be here. It’s part of my culture. It’s a part of my history. It’s a part of who we are.”

Bailey also said it makes sense to have OUWB represented at the event because the school produces physicians who are culturally aware.

An image of all three speakers from the Juneteenth event
From left, Michigan House Rep. Brenda Carter, D-Pontiac, Auburn Hills Mayor Pro Tem Emeritus VeRonica Mitchell, and Bailey.

“I am proud to represent OUWB as not only a space where we’re producing talented, skilled, and culturally sensitive physicians, but we are also contributing to our society in a way that prevents history from repeating itself and creates a new story.”

“OUWB is part of this community, and representation matters,” she added. 

Bailey’s overall goal, she said, was to inspire attendees to “remember our past, but lead for our future.”

During her presentation, Bailey reflected on progress that’s been made while also taking stock of what needs to change. She also talked about what it’s going to take to enact such change.

At the end of her speech, Bailey asked everyone to make a pledge to “honor the foundations, assess where we’ve come from” and to do something with what has been left.

“Thank you for recognizing the history, the legacy, and the work that has built this country,” she said.

Lisa Kiefer, president, Rochester Area Democratic Club, said it made sense to have Bailey participate in the event.

“Her knowledge base on the subject matter and her position with the university is a perfect fit for this event,” said Kiefer. “We’re excited to have her share what she knows, and to build connections with her and the university.”

Rep. Carter called Bailey’s presentation “incredible.” Carter said she was especially moved by the way Bailey talked about the past while keeping an eye on the future.

“When I see our history being passed down…it’s all I can ask for,” she said. “We’re only here for a short while…we’ve got to make sure we pass it on to the next generation.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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