CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE INTRODUCES H. RES. 268 IN OBSERVANCE OF JUNETEENTH
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee released the following statement in observance of Juneteenth:
“On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the freedom of the last American slaves; belatedly freeing 250,000 slaves in Texas nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day coined Juneteenth was first celebrated in the Texas state capital in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Today, Juneteenth remains the oldest known celebration of slavery’s demise. It commemorates freedom while acknowledging the sacrifices and contributions made by courageous African Americans toward making our great nation the more conscious and accepting country that it has become.
“Because of the importance of Juneteenth to Texas, I have introduced H. Res 268 – a Resolution observing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day. As we celebrate the anniversary of Juneteenth, I ask that all of my colleagues join me in reflecting upon its significance. Because it was only after that day in 1865 when General Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on the heels of the most devastating conflict in our country’s history, in the aftermath of a civil war that pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor and threatened to tear the fabric of our union apart forever that America truly became the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“Not until 1979, when my friend, State Representative Al Edwards, introduced the bill did Juneteenth become a Texas state holiday. It was first celebrated as such in 1980. Civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Freedom is never free’, and African American labor leader A. Phillip Randolph often said, ‘Freedom is never given. It is won.’ We should all recognize the power and the ironic truth of those statements and we should pause to remember the enormous price paid by all Americans in our country’s quest to realize its promise. Juneteenth honors the end of the 400 years of suffering African Americans endured under slavery and celebrates the legacy of perseverance that has become the hallmark of the African American community and its struggle for equality.
“Throughout the 1980's and 90's, Juneteenth has continued to enjoy a growing and healthy interest from communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of National Juneteenth Organizations have arisen to take their place alongside older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
“Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing. The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states come on board and form local committees and organizations to coordinate the activities.”