Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
June 19, 2007
Contact Info: 
Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130


WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of H. Con. Res. 155, "Recognizing the Historical Significance of Juneteenth Independence Day:"


"As someone who has spent more than a quarter of a century serving the people of Maryland's Fifth Congressional District in the House of Representatives, I have developed a profound appreciation for the hard work that goes into creating the laws of our land.  However, it is not the passage of legislation or signing ceremonies with the President that I will remember most when my time here is done.  Rather, it is seeing the way that our work positively impacts the lives of those we serve out in the real world.


"This is why Juneteenth Independence Day holds such special significance for me.  Because Juneteenth isn't a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation itself, it is a commemoration of the day that its effects were finally felt by those who had been denied their God-given right to freedom for far too long.


"When the Emancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863, it did nothing to outlaw the cruel and barbaric practice in the states loyal to the Confederacy.  It wasn't until two-and-a-half years later - when Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War was over, the United States was whole once again, and that all slaves in every part of our nation were now free - that the spirit of abolition would finally be fulfilled.


"That day was June 19, 1865 - and today, we mark the 142nd anniversary of the moment that freedom, equality and the unabated pursuit of happiness were extended to former Confederate slaves, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.


"It gives me great pride to join my colleagues in Congress - as well as Americans from all walks of life - in commemorating our country's oldest celebration of the abolishment of slavery, and in honoring all of the achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout our nation's history."