As leaders in our efforts to make Juneteenth Independence Day a national day of observance, we need each of you to send email, letters, or make telephone calls to your state's two (2) United States Senators requesting their support of legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a national day of observance.
Your hard work has already succeeded in making Juneteenth an official observance in 43 states and that number continues to grow (please see attachment #1 or enclosure # 1).
Attachment #1 is provided for you to email, mail, or telephone your state™s two (2) United States Senators requesting that they support legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance, similar to Flag Day or Patriot Day.
Attachment/enclosure #2 provides a brief history of recent legislation in the United States Congress recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day.
Following passage in the U.S. Senate, the legislation must then be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and sent to President Obama for signature. Hopefully, this will all take place before our 2014 WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance (http://www.juneteenth.us/pressrelease15.html).
Following passage in the U.S. Senate, the legislation must then be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and sent to President Obama for signature. Hopefully, this will all take place before our 2014 WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
(Washington, DC) - Jazz music played in the background as everyone from Capitol Hill staffers to high school students mingled at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Juneteenth Reception Wed., June 17 in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill.
On the trumpet was Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., chair of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign. As chair, Myers is asking Congress to enact legislation that he hopes will make Juneteenth a national day of observance in America, similar to Flag Day or Patriot’s Day, by next year. Juneteenth is African Americans’ Independence Day, Myers said, because “the Fourth of July does not capture, for us, freedom.”
Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery that occurs every year on June 19. It commemorates the day that Union soldiers went to Galveston, Texas, announced that the Civil War had ended, and read a general order which freed the 250,000 slaves living in the state. Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect two years prior, in January of 1863, many were still enslaved until June 19, 1865, a day of long-awaited liberation in America.
Helen Mitchell, who was in charge of the planning, development and implementation of the CBC event, believes Juneteenth is important because “it’s a part of our heritage.” “Juneteenth speaks to the fact that there’s a continued fight,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that although African Americans are physically free, the mental state of slavery has yet to be eradicated. Although Mitchell said African Americans today are allowing themselves to be enslaved to institutional barriers, she is confident that “through faith and hope, we can move beyond that.”
Gregory Hogan, who came from New Jersey to attend, wants to take that optimism back home and get young people involved in the movement. Hogan believes that young people should be the most concerned and proactive, but said they remain apathetic on weighty matters such as Juneteenth.
“I think people don’t care because they don’t know. They don’t know what they should care about,” Hogan said.
Chelsea Jackson, a rising senior at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Md., volunteered at the CBC event, claiming that this is important to her because she needs to know her history. Jackson, like Hogan, recommends that more young people get involved and volunteer at events like the reception in the future.
Some of the benefits of working this event are its location, Capitol Hill, and the connections students can make there, in addition to the fact that it is informational and a good experience, Jackson said.
The CBC Juneteenth reception followed a symposium, which highlighted the significance of Juneteenth and the efforts the CBC is making to address issues affecting the African American community. Members of the CBC, including its chair, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), discussed many topics, including healthcare, judicial and civil rights, and the partnerships the CBC is working to build with communities across the nation.
But the most important issue for Dr. Myers is continuing the quest for formal, national recognition of Juneteenth by the government.
“Unless we celebrate ourselves, we won’t be celebrated,” Myers said.
Hogan and his family agree.
“Every year we have our own celebration at my house. Even though it’s not a national holiday yet, that’s what we’re striving for,” he said.
At the reception, Hogan wore a t-shirt he received 15 years ago at the age of 11 when he attended a meeting on the steps of the City Capitol with his parents, the Presidents of the Northeastern Chapter of the Juneteenth Foundation. His shirt read: “Juneteenth- Freedom with the stroke of a pen, Written in a people’s blood.”
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, returned to the nation's capitol for the ten year anniversary of the Washington JUNETEENTH Nationsl Holiday Observance. Known as the "Modern Juneteenth Movement" in America, a group of Juneteenth state leaders and supporters of the campaign were encouraged by the meetings and activities centered around Juneteenth Independence Day in Washington, DC. Read More
(Lubbock, TX) - Juneteenth, the holiday observed by some states that
celebrates the freeing of Texas slaves after the Civil War, will become
a national holiday this year if the Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr. is
successful in his crusade.
Myers, national chairman of the Juneteenth Holiday Campaign,
visited Lubbock's Patterson Library on Friday to promote the national
observance of the holiday and to donate a book about Juneteenth to the
June 19, 1865, is the day Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in
Galveston with the news that slaves had been freed by the Emancipation
Proclamation. Freed Texas slaves began an annual celebration of June 19
on the first anniversary of the day, and the holiday eventually began
to be known as Juneteenth.
Myers presented a copy of "Juneteenth: A Celebration of
Freedom" by Charles A. Taylor to Helen Viser-Fitzgerald, the Patterson
Library branch manager and librarian. He and Taylor have been friends
since they attended the University of Wisconsin together, he said.
According to the book, Juneteenth is considered to be the day the last slaves in America were freed.
Myers said 31 states now recognize Juneteenth as either a state
holiday or a state holiday observation with government offices closed.
The most recent was Kansas, which passed legislation about two weeks
ago, he said.
In addition to promoting the national observance of
Juneteenth, Myers also recognized June as Black Music Month and
promoted Maafa, which is sometimes called the African Holocaust or the
Holocaust of Enslavement.
Maafa is a Swahili word that means great calamity or disaster
and refers to the suffering of Africans through slavery and the deaths
of millions of Africans on slave ships. It is observed annually on the
third Friday in June, he said.
Myers, who is also a jazz musician, brought out a miniature
trumpet and played a spirited jazz version of "Misty" at the Friday
news conference when he was talking about Black Music Month.