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This is only the start

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. But like too many Black stories in America, it has too often been ignored in whitewashed history books.

That's what makes this year so special. Because of our efforts in Congress, today marks the first time we, as a nation, are celebrating Juneteenth as an official federal holiday (and the first new federal holiday created in nearly 40 years).

Today represents the moment in 1865 when enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas were notified of their freedom — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered, and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was both a victory and a reminder of the unequal barriers Black Americans face even under so-called equality.

It was my honor to preside over the House floor this week as we advanced this legislation to ensure Juneteenth, and the horrific legacy of slavery in America, is never forgotten.

Beyond the chance to celebrate emancipation, I hope Juneteenth will serve as a time for Americans to learn, reflect, and confront the ugly white supremacy that still exists in our country today.

This is only the start.

A dedicated day of national reflection and action, while important, is no substitute for legislation we are pursuing on reparations, criminal justice reform, voting rights, and the racist war on drugs that has disproportionately hurt Black Americans.

I will be taking time today not only to reflect on the dark history of slavery and racism in America, but also how we can better tackle these urgent legislative priorities that are necessary in the fight for true equality. In solidarity,


Posted on June 19, 2021.