Public Advocate's Statement On The Commemoration Of Juneteenth

June 19th, 2021

Press Release

"For the first time since its origins, Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday. And the importance of that recognition is real, it's validating. It's an important, undeniable acknowledgement of American history. A permanent and recurring recognition of the impact of the institution of slavery on all Americans. 

"At the same time - when we marched, when we fought, when we raised our voices, raised our fists shouting Black Lives Matter - it wasn't just for a day off. It was to stop the killing of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement specifically, and broadly for true justice and equity, an end to the systems that are designed to prevent it. Once again, so many - especially Black Americans - are positioned to have to simultaneously celebrate the recognition of Juneteenth and what it represents, acknowledging those who fought for years so that this day would be honored, while at the same time understanding that it pales in the context of what was asked and demanded.

"It took two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed for the last of those enslaved to learn of their freedom. It's taken over 150 since then for our government to recognize that while that institution of slavery may have been officially abolished in 1863, the systems rooted in the same oppression persist. 

"As a nation seems to be waking up to the importance of this holiday,  we will continue to push in an effort to create the transformational changes, the freedoms, promised so many years ago but not yet received. And today, even amid the ongoing struggle, we will celebrate."

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