June 16, 2021

Congresswoman Lee Votes to Establish Juneteenth as a National Holiday

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released the following statement after voting to pass the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in the House:

“On June 19th, 1865, news of the end of slavery finally reached Galveston, Texas more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. My great grandmother and many of my ancestors were born during slavery in Galveston, Texas. This day has always symbolized a time for reflection, as well as a recommitment to justice.  

“Each year, Juneteenth compels us to confront the darkest moments in our nation’s history. A chapter that was born in the middle passage, continued through slavery and manifests today through systemic racism. We must acknowledge the legacy of slavery and systemic racism that continues today in education, in healthcare, and in a broken criminal justice system. It is also at the heart of the crises facing our nation today, including police brutality, mass incarceration, the COVID-19 public health crisis, and the crisis of poverty.

 “In recognizing this important day and its history, it is also crucial that we pass Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee’s H.R. 40 legislation to establish a commission to study and develop reparations, as well as my bill to create a truth, racial healing and transformation commission. I applaud Congresswoman Jackson-Lee’s leadership on this and so many issues, and will continue working alongside my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus to facilitate our power and our message.

“As a nation, we must reckon with the legacy of slavery and white supremacy, and acknowledge how it infects our society today. We must have a moment of public education and truth telling in this country, and establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday is the right thing to do toward that end.”