Juneteenth GUEST BLOG BY Senator Steven Bradford
June 29, 2022
June19, 2022, marks the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, which is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States and, as of last year, is officially recognized as a federal holiday. As the Juneteenth celebrations kick-off this weekend across the nation, we must take this time to remember our history, and make certain that the promise of a free and just society is assured for every American.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger led thousands of Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas, to deliver the news that the Civil war had ended and the announcement of General Order No. 3, which proclaimed that all enslaved people were now free. This news was delivered two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, declaring that enslaved people in those states or parts of states still in rebellion were freed. Approximately 250,000 enslaved persons in Texas had no idea that their freedom had been secured by the government.
In 1866, African-Americans transformed June 19 from a day of unheeded military orders into their own annual rite of celebration, formerly known as “Jubilee Day”, and now called “Juneteenth.” In many ways, in Texas, Louisiana, and throughout the South, Juneteenth is their very Independence Day.
Juneteenth is a time for all communities to come together celebrate the contributions and rich culture of African Americans, a culture shaped by a history of perseverance, strength and hope. While we recognize Juneteenth as a special day in American History, it is also a reminder of our country’s past that we must never forget.
We have seen decades of progress towards equality and justice for African-Americans, but like the saying goes, “freedom isn’t free,” and the marathon for freedom continues. This country was built on the backs of noble African American men and women who fought, marched and died for freedom. Slavery may have ended, but the fight for justice and equality continues.
We don't have to look far to see that racism, bigotry, hate and intolerance, still exists within our communities; one need only look to a few weeks ago in Buffalo, New York, for evidence of this violent prejudice.
While some people in this country are afforded life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, African Americans are still fighting to have our full humanity recognized. The chains and bondage of chattel slavery might be physically removed, but the economic, educational, health, housing, and criminal oppression is still very much alive.
As Chair of the CA Legislative Black Caucus, I welcome everyone to celebrate this Juneteenth as an opportunity for our state and country to recognize the undeniable contributions that African Americans have made to help shape the cultural, academic, social, economic, and moral attributes of this nation before and after slavery.
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