For Release: June 17, 2016
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Juneteenth -- America's Celebration of the End of Slavery -- to be Celebrated Sunday, June 19
Project 21 Joins Those Calling for the Appreciation of and Continued Advancement of Freedom
Obama White House Strangely Silent for Eighth Year, Despite Calls that it Issue Some Form of a Commemorative Proclamation for Juneteenth, Joining 43 States and the Bush White House
Washington, D.C. - Sunday, June 19, marks "Juneteenth," the anniversary of the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, who carried with them the news that the Civil War was over and that slavery had been abolished by President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation two-and-a-half years earlier.
According to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, 43 states now recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or special day of observance, and the U.S. Senate established June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day on June 19, 2015. (The states not recognizing Juneteenth in some form are Hawaii, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Arizona and Montana.)
Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. The soldiers carried with them the news that the Civil War was over and that slavery had been abolished through President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect January 1, 1863.
The annual commemoration of this date, which became known as Juneteenth, quickly became a stabilizing and motivating presence in the lives of the African-Americans who lived in Texas and faced the many uncertainties associated with their newly-acquired freedom. The observance quickly spread from Texas to other black communities across the United States.
Juneteenth is celebrated in many ways, but education and self-improvement have been consistent themes at commemorative community gatherings and picnics. In 1980, Juneteenth was made an official holiday in Texas. Juneteenth had been recognized by President George W. Bush in special presidential messages, but President Obama has yet to personally acknowledge Juneteenth at the White House.
The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation has repeatedly contacted the Obama White House. On May 19, it sent one of many requests asking that President Obama "issue a Presidential Proclamation to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance in America, similar to Flag Day or Patriot Day."
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder and Chairman of the group, has explained the importance of noting Juneteenth accordingly: "America needs healing from the scars of enslavement. The annual observance of Juneteenth in America affords the country a tremendous opportunity to constructively reflect on our legacy of enslavement and move forward as a unified nation. As the leader of our country, your public participation in Juneteenth will be instrumental in bringing all Americans together in a spirit of unity and reconciliation."
The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation has expressed its frustration with President Obama on the matter of Juneteenth on a web page, noting that even though then-Senator Barack Obama supported Juneteenth legislation as a Senator, he has done nothing as President to acknowledge it, despite issuing proclamations for LGBT Pride Month, Cinco de Mayo, Greek Independence Day, National Ovarian Cancer Month, Patriot Day, Flag Day and more. It has repeatedly urged the White House to acknowledge Juneteenth in some form.
Project 21 members have been commemorating Juneteenth annually for nearly twenty years. This year, three of them have official statements.
Project 21's Emery McClendon says of Juneteenth:
Black fathers can carry the torch this Sunday by showing why it is important that the end of slavery is celebrated on this day. By stressing to their sons and daughters the importance of Freedom, Liberty, and the American Dream, we can look back, but also dream about our future.
The chains and shackles have been removed since that day, and we need to take advantage of each opportunity that America offers us to succeed.
The American dream is not franchised to any group of people. Hard work and a will to succeed needs to be the goal of those who value this historic day.
Look forward, and thank God for the opportunity of living in such a great nation.
Project 21's Nadra "Cap Black" Enzi adds:
Juneteenth reminds me that African and American captives did their jobs against an uphill climb as steep as any in recorded history.
It reminds me of the countless biographies of past peak performers who didn't have government assistance, and, in fact, contended with government as little more than an open enemy in many cases.
I'm a citizen of the eternal NOW, emboldened to realize my potential in a far better environment than what met these captive Africans and Americans, who fought that uphill fight so I wouldn't have to fight as hard today.
My question is why aren't modern Blacks fighting as hard to realize their potential, against admitted contemporary odds, today?
And Project 21's Ted Hayes has another take, which could be headlined, "Juneteenth or the Fourteenth?":
Today, in this historic, unprecedented, political year of 2016, in which the two major political parties are seeking the presidency, the most important "teenth" that we descendants of chattel slaves - Jim Crow survivors, i.e., black lives, U.S. citizens, is that of the Fourteenth, being the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The 14th Amendment is the national, birth and identity certificate that the U.S. federal government is systematically pirating away to foreign and domestic elements to whom it does not belong.
If this rogue federal action is not ceased, it will eventually render black lives inconsequential within this nation of immigrants built upon backs of our chattel-enslaved ancestors.
Apart from ending slavery (April 1865), and setting into the Constitution its abolishment (December 1865); granting the freed chattel slaves, et al, and their descendant children citizenship "as is enjoyed by white citizens" (1866-68); and granting the new citizen class the authority to vote (February 1870); black lives have been granted many and various extraordinary special attention which has availed us nothing but worse conditions.
Ranging from the disastrous 1964 Civil Rights Act, to Affirmative Action, Black History Month, MLK National Holiday, special television and movie programs such as "Roots," "Twelve Years A Slave," etc., and of course, Juneteenth, is not working to advance our cause in this nation.
As long as we black lives don't claim and enforce our national birthright certificate of the 14th Amendment founded upon the 1866 Civil Rights Act, Juneteenth, et al means nothing but smoke in our eyes.
Project 21 has been a leading voice of black conservatives since its founding in 1992.
Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked for the use of Project 21.
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