Demand That Congress Make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday!

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On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation— which had been issued on January 1, 1863— was read in Texas to enslaved African-Americans. Texas was the last Confederate State to have the proclamation announced, after the end of the American Civil War in April of that year. 

Celebrations of June 19 as the holiday of Juneteenth date back to 1866.

Now it is time for Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Enslaving millions of innocent victims and condemning them to lives of unimaginable suffering is our country’s original sin. The United States is the only Western democracy which was formally established as a republic of enslavement.

The first enslaved persons were brought to Jamestown in 1619.

Eventually, another 12.5 million followed.

George Washington owned enslaved persons, along with eleven other US Presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, who authored these stirring words in the preamble to the Constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But to Jefferson “men” did not include Black men (or women and children).

Black persons had the right to be enslaved and tortured and returned to their owners if they dared flee to freedom.

Enslaved persons were not regarded as human beings, but mere property. A runaway enslaved person was a criminal whose victim was his owner.

Enslavement did not end with the Civil War. It was replaced by Jim Crow, which was enslavement in another form.

The Civil Rights movement did not end enslavement. The War on Drugs simply became a new way to perpetuate the racial oppression of Jim Crow. It was a war waged against Black America by a militarized police state.

A democracy does not wage “war” on its own citizens. Unless those citizens happen to be Black

And now, with a continuing wave of violence of Black Americans by police across the nation, the oppression continues to this very day. 

As a nation, we need all Americans - and Congress - to recognize Juneteenth.