Press Release ● Human and Civil Rights
For Immediate Release: 
June 19, 2008
Contact Info: 
Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

WASHINGTON, DC –  House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) issued the following statement recognizing Juneteenth, the oldest, nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States:


“One hundred and forty three years ago today, Major General Gordon Granger stood on a balcony in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas and read this statement: “In accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”


“The Emancipation Proclamation had been issued almost three years before; but it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that news of freedom reached the slaves of Texas. The announcement set off celebrations in the streets of Galveston, as American slavery came to an end, once and for all. The holiday of Juneteenth had its origin in the spontaneous rejoicing of freed slaves—but in the years since, it has spread all across America.


“Today, we mark a defining moment in America’s centuries-long struggle to fulfill its founding promise. We honor all those who shed their blood to realize that promise in their lifetimes. And we pay tribute to the civil rights heroes of our own time, whose witness spurred America to live up to its long-delayed pledge: “absolute equality of rights.”