June 19,  Juneteenth, has been proclaimed a national holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.  Now, officially titled “National Independence Day”,  Juneteenth has also been known as Emancipation Day,  Jubilee Day,  Freedom Day, and Liberation Day.

On June 19, 1865, U.S. Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas.  He issued General Order No. 3, which announced that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “All  Slaves are free.”  The enslaved people of Galveston, Texas were the last in the nation to be informed that the Civil War had ended and that they were free! This news was delivered to them more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederate states.  It was not until December 6, 1865 that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified to officially abolish slavery throughout the United States.

On June 17, 2021, while signing national legislation making Juneteenth a national holiday, President Joe Biden stated that it would enable all Americans to “feel the power of this day and learn from our history, and celebrate the progress, and grapple with the distance we’ve come, and the distance we have to travel.” “Great nations “don’t ignore their most painful moments…We come to terms with the mistakes we’ve made, in order to remember them and begin to heal and grow stronger.”

Holidays celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people from France, Britain, and Holland have been held throughout the Americas since the 19th century.  In March 2021 Canada officially designated First August Monday to commemorate the day in 1834 that the British Empire abolished slavery.

We welcome the United States into the community of nations that celebrate the emancipation of enslaved peoples.

We look forward to the day when no citizen of any land lives in bondage or without full civil and political rights.

The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

Gail Wright Sirmans, Chair
Orit Asnin
Earlene Baggett-Hayes
Eleanor Barr
James Mang’erere
Peter Meyers
Joyce Mitchell
Andrea Morrison
Paul Monicatti, Ex-officio
Marvin Johnson, Ex-officio
Jeff Krivis, Ex-officio