Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Happy Juneteenth!


Yesterday, President Biden issued a Juneteenth proclamation:

"On June 19, 1865, freedom finally came for the 250,000 enslaved people of Texas.  That day, which would become known as Juneteenth, the Army arrived to enforce what had already been the law of the land for two and a half years — the Emancipation Proclamation.  Today, we recognize that Juneteenth not only marks the end of America’s original sin of slavery but also the beginning of the work at the heart and soul of our Nation:  making the promise of America real for every American.

One of my proudest moments as President was signing into law Juneteenth as a new Federal holiday — the first Federal holiday to be established since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day four decades prior.  Juneteenth is an acknowledgment of the truth of our Nation’s history.  It is about realizing the idea that America was founded on:  All people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives.  It is about the generations of brave Black leaders and selfless activists who never let us walk away from that idea, including Ms. Opal Lee, whom I awarded the Medal of Freedom for her work as the grandmother of Juneteenth, and former State Representative Al Edwards, who authored the bill to designate it a holiday in Texas."

The National Park Service website states that

"Juneteenth (June 19) is the one of the oldest known commemorations related to the abolition of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth National Independence Day was signed into law as a national holiday on June 17, 2021. The word “Juneteenth” is a Black English contraction, or portmanteau, of the month “June” and the date “Nineteenth.” Juneteenth celebrates the date of June 19, 1865, when enslaved people of African descent located in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from the slavery system in the United States.

Freedom was granted through the Emancipation Proclamation signed on January 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln. Texas was the farthest of the Confederate states, and slaveholders there made no attempt to free the enslaved African Americans they held in bondage. This meant that President Lincoln’s proclamation was unenforceable without military intervention, which eventually came nearly 2.5 years later."


The Smithsonian's Historical legacy of Juneteenth.

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