Washington (June 19, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who introduced the Juneteenth Independence Day Act, released the following statement today in honor of Juneteenth, and in celebration of the first anniversary of Juneteenth’s commemoration as a federal holiday:
“Today, we are commemorating a historic moment in our nation’s story, Juneteenth – the formal end of slavery in the United States. One year ago, we passed legislation in the United States Congress to memorialize this important day as a federal holiday, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Though we celebrate the first anniversary of the federal holiday today, communities across our nation have been marking Juneteenth for more than 150 years.
“Juneteenth is a holiday that requires us to remember, reflect, and recommit to the principles that undergird our nation – liberty and justice for all – but that we have never fully embodied. We continue to strive to live up to these principles today. Systemic discrimination and mistreatment of Black and Brown Americans still permeates our society – from our criminal justice system, to our schools, to our health care systems. That’s why it’s so important that we learn from our past and honor the heroes in our history who have bent the moral arc of our nation toward justice.
“More than 150 years since the freeing of the last enslaved people in America, our nation stands at a crossroads on our path to racial justice and equality. We must recognize our wrongs, acknowledge the pain and suffering of generations of enslaved people and their descendants, understand the structures of inequity that continue to oppress communities of color, and – importantly – learn how the freedom fighters of yesterday and today embody the truest values of our nation. We have them to thank for our march toward a more perfect union.”