Archives Press Release
Contact: Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)
web sites: www.19thofJune.com
ORIGINAL DATE OF PRESS RELEASE (4/17/97)
U.S. Senator For Mississippi
Senate Majority Leader
Contact: Susan Irby
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER ANNOUNCES JUNETEENTH OBSERVANCE IN U.S. CAPITOL
(Washington, DC) – An unprecedented observance of Juneteenth Independence Day, the commemoration of the end of slavery, will be held in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building during the first week of June, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi announced today. Juneteenth Independence Day refers to the time in mid-June 1865 when word of emanciaption reached America’s southwestern frontier. “Since that time, Juneteenth has been celebrated to commemorate the end of slavery and to honor those who endured slavery, especially those who moved from slavery to freedom,” Lott said.
On April 10 the Senate adopted legislation officially recognizing Juneteenth Independence Day and encouraging its observance. The measure, Senate Joint Resolution 11, was introduced by Senator Lott and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Cosponsoring the measure were Senators: Spencer Abraham of Michigan, John Ashcroft of Missouri, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Phil Graham of Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Carl Levin of Michigan, Connie Mack of Florida, and Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois. A companion resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma.
Lott saluted the work of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage with whom he will be planning the upcoming observance. “Juneteenth Independence Day is an opportunity for all Americans to better understand our nation’s common past,” Lott said.
The full text of the Senate-passed resolution follows:
Commemorating “Juneteenth Independence Day,” June 19, 1865, the day on which slavery finally came to an end in the United States.
Whereas, news of the end of slavery came late to the frontier areas of the country, especially in the American Southwest,
Whereas the African-Americans who had been slaves in the Southwest thereafter celebrated June 19th as the anniversary of their emancipation,
Whereas their descendants handed down that tradition from generation to generation as an inspiration and encouragement for future generations,
Whereas Juneteenth celebrations have thus been held for 130 years to honor the memory of all those who endured slavery and especially those who moved from slavery to freedom,
Whereas their example of faith and strength of character remains a lesson for all Americans today, regardless of background or region or race, now, therefore, be it
That the annual observance of June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day is an important and enriching part of our country’s history and heritage, and
That the celebration of Juneteenth provides an opportunity for all Americans to learn more about our common past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped our nation, and
That a copy of this Resolution be transmitted to the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage as an expression of appreciation for its role in promoting the observance of Juneteenth Independence Day.