U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today released the following statement recognizing Juneteenth Independence Day.
On June 19th each year, Juneteenth Independence Day commemorates the day the last remaining African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation.
“Today marks the 153rd anniversary of the end of one of our nation’s darkest chapters as the last remaining slaves finally learned of their freedom. This day is an important reminder that despite the significant progress our country has made over the last century and a half, we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality.
“Our society faces challenging times: from restricted access to the ballot box to environmental injustice to a criminal justice system that is in desperate need of reform. On this day, let us recommit ourselves to overcoming these systemic challenges and ensuring that future generations of American children can achieve their dreams no matter who they are or where they live.”
The featured photo from Wikimedia shows a Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900.
Following is the U.S. Senate’s resolution, which Senator Peters cosponsored, honoring Juneteenth Independence Day.
2D SESSION S. RES. 547
Designating June 19, 2018, as ‘‘Juneteenth Independence Day’’ in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which slavery legally came to an end
in the United States.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
JUNE 14, 2018
Mr. WICKER (for himself, Mrs. GILLIBRAND, Ms. BALDWIN, Mr. BENNET, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mr. BOOKER, Mr. BROWN, Ms. CANTWELL, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. CARPER, Mr. COONS, Mr. CORNYN, Ms. CORTEZ MASTO, Mr. DONNELLY, Mr. DURBIN, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. GRASSLEY, Ms. HARRIS, Ms. HASSAN, Mr. HATCH, Mr. HELLER, Ms. HIRONO, Mr. JONES, Mr. KAINE, Mr. KING, Ms. KLOBUCHAR, Mr. LEE, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. MURPHY, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. NELSON, Mr. PAUL, Mr. PERDUE, Mr. PETERS, Mr. PORTMAN, Mr. RUBIO, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. SCOTT, Ms. SMITH, Ms. STABENOW, Mr. TILLIS, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. WARNER, Ms. WARREN, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, Mr. WYDEN, Mr. YOUNG, and Mr. CRUZ) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to
Designating June 19, 2018, as ‘‘Juneteenth Independence Day’’ in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which slavery legally came to an end in the United States.
Whereas news of the end of slavery did not reach the frontier areas of the United States, in particular the State of Texas and the other Southwestern States, until months after the conclusion of the Civil War, more than 21⁄2 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863;
Whereas, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were free;
Whereas African-Americans who had been slaves in the Southwest celebrated June 19, commonly known as ‘‘Juneteenth Independence Day’’, as inspiration and encouragement for future generations;
Whereas African-Americans from the Southwest have continued the tradition of observing Juneteenth Independence Day for over 150 years;
Whereas 45 States and the District of Columbia have designated Juneteenth Independence Day as a special day of observance in recognition of the emancipation of all slaves in the United States;
Whereas Juneteenth Independence Day celebrations have been held to honor African-American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures;
Whereas the faith and strength of character demonstrated by former slaves and the descendants of former slaves remain an example for all people of the United States, regardless of background, religion, or race;
Whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in December 1865; and Whereas, over the course of its history, the United States has grown into a symbol of democracy and freedom around the world:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate designates June 19, 2018, as ‘‘Juneteenth Independence Day’’; recognizes the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day to the United States; supports the continued nationwide celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day to provide an opportunity for the people of the United States to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped the United States; and recognizes that the observance of the end of slavery is part of the history and heritage of the United States.