Juneteenth

“The U.S. Capitol and the White House were built through the uncompensated labor of the ancestors of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of slavery,” states Myers who has repeatedly urged President Bush to recognize and honor the sacrifice and contributions of enslaved Americans. 

Thus far, President Bush has declined Myers’ invitations. Myers believes America must be healed from the legacy of slavery and the annual observance of Juneteenth in America provides the nation with an opportune time to acknowledge that need.

Additionally, Myers hopes that the reintroduction of the Native American Apology Resolution in the Senate will result in the acknowledgement that America needs healing from the legacy of atrocities against Native Americans as well as African-Americans.

Juneteenth is the name given to the observance of the “19th of June, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves who were still held in bondage in the Southwest.  Center in Galveston, Texas, the Southwest was the last region to practice slavery in the United States following the end of the Civil War. The fact that Americans were still held as slaves more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln is shocking for most Americans.

After General Granger read General Order No. 3, the order that abolished slavery in the region, the former slaves celebrated jubilantly.  Annual celebrations have continued throughout the African American community, and for many, Juneteenth is America’s second Independence Day Celebration.

A congressional resolution recognizing the significance of Juneteenth Independence Day, (H. Con. Res. 160), was recently introduced by Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) with a host of co-sponsors.  The resolution also requests that President Bush issue a Presidential Proclamation acknowledging the same.

“The official recognition of Juneteenth Independence Day and the end of slavery by state governments and congress are very significant steps in bringing healing to America from the legacy of slavery,” said Myers. “As the descendents of Americans of African descent, our ancestors were brought to America in chains. This should never be forgotten.

Myers hopes that the reintroduction of the Native American Apology Resolution in the Senate will result in the acknowledgement that America needs healing from the legacy of atrocities against Native Americans as well as African-Americans.

by Dan PerkinsSource: The National Juneteenth Observance FoundationThis article originally appeared in the June 2005 edition of diversityinbusiness.com