Tomorrow, people across the United States will celebrate Juneteenth—a significant holiday which commemorates the liberation of the remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy.
On June 19, 1865, roughly a quarter-million enslaved people in the state of Texas were finally set free, more than two years following the Emancipation Proclamation. This year marks the event's 155th anniversary, and it comes at an extraordinary time in American history. We are witnessing civil unrest — one of the largest social justice movements since the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Today's movement is different, however. In the U.S. and beyond, people of all races, colors, creeds, and ethnicities are joining together like never before. In the thrust of this current movement, we have a unique opportunity to embody the principles our nation espouses, that "all men are created equal" and "liberty and justice for all."
Juneteenth was an important day in our country's history. Many hoped it would mark the end of slavery, injustice, and disregard for the lives of an entire race. But there's still work to do. As we embrace the legacy of this day, we can all be part of a permanent solution. We can self-assess, consider the impact of our mindsets and behaviors, and commit to change. If we all do our part, this Juneteenth and the days ahead can mark the turning point where we put an end to systemic racism and injustice for good.
I welcome you to join in the great tradition of observing Juneteenth as a day of reflection, celebration, and the rebuilding of our hope for a better tomorrow.