WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) released the following statement today commemorating the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth:
“Two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and delivered news to the last group of enslaved African Americans that they were free. Since that day, Juneteenth has been a celebration of liberty for those who endured bondage and their descendants. Today, I join in commemorating this joyful occasion while also reflecting on the enduring and painful legacies of slavery and segregation.
“Even 155 years later, America continues to grapple with the difficult truth that the work of emancipation will not be finished until African Americans can experience the full security promised by our Declaration of Independence: that of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With cries for reform and change echoing across this land in the aftermath of horrific killings by police of African Americans, we are faced with the harrowing reality that African Americans continue to be denied these basic rights and freedoms. As our nation works to overcome the challenge of COVID-19, racial disparities in infections, treatment, and fatalities have exposed in full the terrible consequences of long-term inequalities in health care, criminal justice, economic opportunity, housing, education, and other areas of life.
“I am proud to stand alongside my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus as we advance legislation to combat years of systemic racism and discrimination, and I applaud their work on the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act to address police misconduct, which I will bring to the Floor next week. In addition, I strongly support efforts to remove symbols of slavery and segregation in the United States Capitol and public spaces throughout the nation.
“Of course, more must be done to eradicate prejudice and bigotry in our country, and House Democrats will never stop working toward that end. We must not leave the work of emancipation and civil rights unfinished, and on Juneteenth, we honor those who have fought and sacrificed for freedom while recommitting ourselves to continuing their work in our own day.”