For Release: June 11, 1999
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or Project21@nationalcenter.org
When "Juneteenth" is observed on June 19, the members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 ask African-Americans everywhere to use the celebration of education, self-development and respect to examine and reassess the reliance of many in the black community on government support.
"We need to be mindful of what the Civil War was about: freedom. Americans of all nationalities are becoming less free every single day," said Project 21 member Reginald Jones. "We should use this special day as a reawakening of the American spirit by teaching and reading the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights."
Juneteenth commemorates the 1865 arrival of Union General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas with news of the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. For slaves in Texas, it was the first time they were told that the Emancipation Proclamation had freed them a year-and-a-half earlier.
In 1980, Juneteenth became an official holiday in Texas, but is celebrated nationwide and even internationally. While often observed with picnic, sporting events and other public gatherings, Juneteenth has always been used as a time for prayer, reflection and self-improvement.
"The lives of many blacks, as well as whites, will have been wasted it this and the next generations do not challenge their dependency upon our government's hand-out programs," said Project 21 member E. LeMay Lathan. "If they continue as is, we will find ourselves no further along than we were in 1860, slaves to 'the mas'a.'"
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community
since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398
or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org.