Holiday Recognizes End of Slavery in the United States
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) noted the 153rd anniversary of Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, when a Union Army general brought the news to the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, that they, and all slaves in the former Confederacy, were free. It is also the 25th anniversary of the three-day Memphis Juneteenth Music Festival that concluded Sunday. He made the following statement:
“Each year, Juneteenth is observed on June 19th. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is a time to reflect upon the end of slavery in America and to recognize the many contributions African American citizens have made to our rich culture. I am proud to have authored and passed the first Congressional apology for slavery and Jim Crow in 2008. While we have made strides towards civil rights for all, there are still lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow in our society and we must take the actions necessary to rectify the remaining consequences of America’s ‘original sin’ of accepted and institutionalized inequality.
“This year also marks the 25th annual Juneteenth Urban Music Festival in Memphis. It is fitting that the Juneteenth Urban Music Festival has become one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the country given Memphis’s rich African American history and culture. Memphis is home to such iconic landmarks as the National Civil Rights Museum, Clayborn Temple, Mason Temple, Royal Studios, and Stax Records, and produced inspirational and talented figures such as Dr. Vasco and Maxine Smith, Velma Louis Jones, Reverend Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Jesse Turner Sr., Col. Luke Weathers Jr., Dr. Linkwood Williams, A.W. Willis, Russell Sugarmon, B.B. King, Al Green, Willie Mitchell, Memphis Slim, Furry Lewis, Ida B. Wells, Isaac Hayes and countless others. I encourage Memphians to join me in observing our nation’s 153rd anniversary of Juneteenth, and I hope you enjoyed the 25th celebration of the holiday in Memphis over the weekend.”
Congressman Cohen is an original cosponsor of a Congressional resolution recognizing June 19, 2018 as this year’s observance of the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day.