"Juneteenth" Emancipation Observance Celebrated by Black Conservatives
End of Slavery Began Quest for Self-Determination That Continues Today
For Release: June 19, 2006
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11
"Juneteenth" - the oldest and most recognized commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States - is June 19. On this day set aside for reflection on the struggle for freedom and the ongoing quest for self-empowerment, members of the black leadership network Project 21 urge black Americans to embrace their inherent talents and strengthen their ties with family and community for the betterment of themselves and future generations.
"Slavery's oppressive past paved the way for blacks to forge their own path for liberty," noted Project 21 senior fellow Deneen Moore. "Juneteenth celebrations should serve as a constant reminder that freedom must never be taken for granted."
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 was abolished through Presi
dent Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation two-and-a-half years earlier. The annual commemoration of this date quickly became a stabilizing as well as a motivating presence in the lives of African-Americans in Texas who faced the many uncertainties associated with their newly acquired freedom. The observance of Juneteenth quickly spread from Texas to become recognized in black communities across the United States.
Juneteenth is celebrated in diverse ways, but education and self-improvement have been consistent themes at community gatherings and picnics over the years. In 1980, Juneteenth was made an official holiday in Texas. Since then, 18 other states have officially recognized Juneteenth. Over 300 events are said to be scheduled this year across the country and among American troops stationed overseas.
"Just like the Union troops who brought the good news of our emancipation in 1865, conservative blacks on this Juneteenth are telling our brothers and sisters that it is time to consider another break from that which would bind us," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "We must now claim our emancipation from the sense of hopelessness that many of us feel and is perpetuated by self-serving and self-promoting members of our community who try to pass themselves off as our leaders. We must work hard to win our freedom from the shackles of things such as inadequate government-run schools, black-on-black crime and out-of-wedlock childbirths and the destruction of the black family."
For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at http://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.