On Saturday, 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 156th anniversary, and it is met with yet another historic marker. This week on June 17, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act to establish Juneteenth as the 11th federal holiday. Prior to the presidential signature, the bill was unanimously passed by the Senate.
This is a day of celebration, service, and reflection. We celebrate what was hoped to be the end of slavery, systemic injustice, and the progress we have made thus far. We serve by spending the day giving back to our communities. We reflect on the kind of world and experiences we want for our loved ones, families, and the generations to come; working together to rebuild our hope for a better tomorrow.
Juneteenth was and is an important day for our country. The designation as a federal holiday itself is a significant acknowledgment of our progress, that further embeds the principles our nation espouses — that "all men are created equal" and to ensure that liberty and justice are true and evident for all. There is still much more that lies ahead.
We can self-assess, consider the impact of our mindsets and behaviors, and commit to being better tomorrow than we were today. If we all do our part, we can truly live and see the change we seek.
I welcome you to join in the great tradition of observing Juneteenth!