19 Jun 2010 Juneteenth Civil Rights Holiday Observed While Future Freedom Remains At Risk
Washington, D.C. — On the occasion of “Juneteenth” — the oldest and most recognized annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States — members of the Project 21 black leadership network assert the civil rights-themed holiday should be used to reflect on past struggles for freedom and how to expand and protect hard-won liberties and opportunities at a time when they may be on the wane.
Project 21 members have commemorated Juneteenth since 1999, urging black Americans to use the observance of Juneteenth to embrace their inherent talents and strengthen ties with family and community.
“Juneteenth is a time to reflect on where we as blacks have been and a time to conduct an azimuth check on where we are going,” said Project 21 member R. Dozier Gray. “It is a time for reflection. It is a time for clarity. It is a time to count the ways in which we are free and to take measure of the chains that still bind us. It is a time to take stock of ourselves — as men, as husbands, as women, as wives and sons and daughters. It is a time to plot a course to freedom from debt, immorality and lethargy. No one ever truly freed a man but himself, just as no one ever really enslaved a man but himself.”
In the course of the past year, government spending and government control greatly expanded and the nation’s economic well-being is now at risk. The passage of Obamacare, which will result in the takeover of much of the nation’s private health care system, and ongoing attempts to impose a “cap-and-trade” energy policy will lead to decreased liberty and increased oversight over and cost to the average American in the future. That makes this year’s Juneteenth commemoration the most important in many years.
Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli added: “Juneteenth is a special day for blacks to commemorate liberty. Liberty offers us the opportunity to use our talents to pursue happiness and success. With this in mind, we must seek self-reliance and rely on hard-work as a means to achievement — avoiding government programs that create dependency.”
Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas. The soldiers carried the news that the Civil War was over and that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery two-and-a-half years earlier.
The annual commemoration became known as Juneteenth and quickly became a stabilizing as well as motivating presence in the lives of black Americans in Texas, who 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. Currently, 35 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or observance.
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 http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.