Senator Boxer:  Celebrating Juneteenth   

Wednesday, June 15, 2011  

Dear Friend:

Each year on June 19th we celebrate “Juneteenth,” a day to commemorate the triumph of freedom over slavery and rededicate ourselves to finally ensuring liberty and justice for all.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and a group of Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas.  General Granger then read the famous Order Number 3 proclaiming that the Civil War had ended and that all of America’s remaining slaves were now free.

President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect for two and a half years, but most slaves in the South did not hear that they were free until after the Civil War ended.  For African-Americans in Texas and across the South, Juneteenth became the day most closely associated with true emancipation.

Though initially celebrated only locally in Galveston, Juneteenth is now observed nationwide by Americans from all backgrounds.  And while this day holds a special meaning for descendants of slaves, Juneteenth provides an important opportunity for us all to commemorate a central tenet of our great nation: that we are all created equal.

Slavery is a bleak and terrible part of our nation’s history and should serve to remind us that our task in government and in public life is always – as stated in the preamble to the Constitution – to form a more perfect union.

Juneteenth is a good opportunity to pause and consider not just the tragedy of slavery and the glory of Emancipation, but also how far America has come and how much work remains to be done to realize our nation’s magnificent ideals.  As we celebrate Juneteenth 2011, let us keep working together to form that more perfect union.

p.s. You can find a list of California Juneteenth celebrations here, on the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation website.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer, US Senator, California
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer