19 Jun 2008 “Juneteenth” Observed by Black Conservatives
Washington, D.C. – “Juneteenth” is the oldest and most recognized commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Members of the Project 21 black leadership network suggest the Juneteenth holiday – observed every June 19 – be used as a day for reflection on the struggle for freedom and the ongoing quest for self-empowerment.
Project 21 members, who have called attention to the Juneteenth since 1999, urge black Americans to use this day to embrace their inherent talents and strengthen their ties with family and community for the betterment of themselves and future generations.
“As we celebrate Juneteenth we should never forget that with freedom comes the responsibility to take advantage of our hard-fought liberty by making good decisions to better our lives,” said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli.
Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. The soldiers carried with them the news that the Civil War was over and that slavery was abolished through President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation two-and-a-half years earlier.
The annual commemoration of this date, which became known as Juneteenth, quickly became a stabilizing as well as a motivating presence in the lives of the African-Americans who lived in Texas and faced many uncertainties associated with newly-acquired freedom. The observance quickly spread from Texas to be recognized across the United States.
Juneteenth is celebrated in many ways, but education and self-improvement have been consistent themes at commemorative community gatherings and picnics in recent years. In 1980, Juneteenth was made an official holiday in Texas. According to the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, 25 states currently recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. It has been recognized by President George W. Bush in special presidential messages.
“Growing up in Texas, Juneteenth has always been a celebration of freedom and liberty, a time to be grateful for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Project 21 member Lisa Fritsch. “It is a day to be thankful the strength and fortitude of our ancestors. A day to be thankful for America.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.