06.19.20

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Statement on the 155th Observance of Juneteenth

Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee issued the following statement on the 155th observance of Juneteenth.

“We celebrate this Juneteenth as millions of people around the world are crying out against systemic racism and anti-Black violence.

On this day in 1865, news of slavery’s end finally made its way to Galveston, Texas, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. In that same year, prior to Juneteenth, my grandfather was born under slavery in Galveston. On Juneteenth, slavery in America was finally over.

And while we celebrate slavery’s end, the fight for freedom and equality in this country is far from finished. George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others were denied their freedom to live because of the color of their skin.

Each year, Juneteenth compels us to confront the darkest chapter in American history, a chapter that was born in the Middle Passage, nurtured through slavery and institutionally preserved since the first African slaves arrived in North American 401 years ago.

 

On Juneteenth we remember the millions of children, women, and men who were abused, massacred, and sold as property in this country. In doing so, we also honor the courageous champions who fought to end slavery and the thousands of unsung heroes whose names we will never know. And we must acknowledge the corrupting legacy of slavery and racial inequality that continues today in education, in healthcare, and in a criminal justice system that too often acts in a predatory way towards African Americans and other people of color. This inequality is at the heart of every crisis facing our nation – the crisis of police brutality and mass incarceration; the COVID-19 public health crisis which is disproportionately affecting communities of color and killing African Americans at two or three times the rate of whites; the crisis of poverty, which is excluding so many minority families the American Dream.

 

Today, we rededicate ourselves to fight the institutional racism and inequality that continues to hold our entire country back.”

 

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