June 19th, 2010
01:14 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama issues statement on 'Juneteenth' observance

President Obama issued the following statement Saturday regarding the observance of 'Juneteenth':

Statement by President Obama on the Observance of Juneteenth

On this day 145 years ago, the people of Galveston, Texas, received word from members of the Union Army that those slaves who remained captive were now indeed free. More than two years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the order read by Major General Gordon Granger made plain that the relationship between “former masters and slaves” would now be one of “employer and free laborer.”

General Granger’s pronouncement was one step in our continuing effort to perfect our union and live out the ideals of our Founders. While we know it would be many years before African descendants in America achieved the full rights offered through Lincoln’s proclamation, that day in Texas, former slaves were offered the hope of embracing the American Dream as their own.

This occasion, which became known as Juneteenth, is now celebrated here in America and around the world and is a time not only to celebrate the rich heritage and many accomplishments of African Americans in our country, but also a time to reflect on the common values and ideals that we share as Americans.

Our nation is stronger because of the generations of struggles for equal rights and social justice, and our culture is richer because of the contributions of African Americans throughout our history. This is why Juneteenth, while rooted in the history of a people, can be celebrated by all Americans.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Susan

    Glad the pres. took time out from his packed schedule to mark Juneteenth & to attend a baseball game. We work all the better for taking a break. Go Mr. President, we support you!

    June 19, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. JD in Moraga, CA

    Is anyone really surprised that it took Texas two years to catch up?

    June 19, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. themft

    wow... the down low holdiay. comprable to cinco de mayo and 4 of july. I as a proud African American feel no need to have a hoopla on the 4 of july. America was freed from England on the 4th but def not slaves. So .cde .. the fireworks, barbeque and kobiashi hot dogs contest.

    Juneteenth is more of a cultural affair. Arts, Music, Theater, Poetry, cuisine ..... You will find vendors (paint, sketch, carictures, clothing, oranments, furniture), performing artist, cooking contest and bomb food.... So if your curious come on out. Usually celebrated in the southwest american states due to the traditional demographics of the historical event, but I partAad in MN, AZ, DC, CA for JuneTeenth.

    June 19, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. John

    Eloquently put!

    June 19, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. jeff jackson, alabama

    Employer and free laborer ?
    Did that mean free laborer as in no pay ?( or free in society)
    I only say this because black share croppers
    were only working for crop profit off their small
    parcel they worked after hours up until the sixties.
    I don't really see where any real celebration would
    have taken place until the civil rights acts of the
    late sixties. Even until the sixties Sammy Davis Jr.
    was still having to use the back door of clubs in Vegas.
    More freedom has come to blacks in the last 40 years
    than the previous 100 years before that.

    June 19, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Joshua Hargrave

    Then why is it only observed in 32 states. That doesnt seem like equality to me. Its more of a "holiday" than Martin Luther Kings Birthday.

    June 19, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. scarynight44

    Happy Juneteenth everybody, god was with the union.

    June 19, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. S. C. C.

    I commend our President for a educational review of a significant
    time in the African American history. Many people both black and
    white had no idea of the importance of this commemoration in June.
    Thanks Pres. Obama for your explanation

    June 19, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. pierce

    Juneteenth is a great day, not only for African Americans but for all Americans. It is like a Fourth of July, a Diez is Seis de Septiembre and a Flag Day all rolled into one.

    A great day for my fellow Americans who are black.

    Enjoy, and I will be there with you in this joyous observance.

    June 19, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. mike

    The news of President Lincoln’s signing the Emancipation Proclamation was in all the newspapers north and south. Isn’t it a little embarrassing to celebrate stupidly?

    June 19, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Freeman S. Peach

    Heaven forbid America would observe the day the civil war ended where the most Americans died in any other war fought, mostly white fighting over States Rights and among other issues slavery. All this does is make it all about the black man again...I'm quite tired of it myself.

    June 19, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. thor

    This statement coming from O'bama the great divider !!!!

    June 19, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Eugene Frank MD

    The group that has, for years, supported black rights, Jewish philanthropies, appears no longer to be important to the president now that he has office and power. God stayed the hand of Abraham when he would sacrifice his own sun for his faith: no one has stayed the hand of Obama in sacrificing Israel for political expediencies. A sacrifice is a sacrifice is a sacrifice, for the god OIL: to date neither his policy towards Iran, Korea, Hamas or even Russia, has not produced resolution with all the sacrifice of American interests, Obama has made. Being our first black president carries responsibilities to history, if not to those who elected him: Obama has lost perspective shooting hoops, playing the all around American Jock-intellectual and seeking the applause of foreign leaders and crowds. Charity begins at home, mr. President.

    June 19, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. JES

    You are something else just don't know what yet.

    When will you lead us out of the problems that you helped start by all of your spending.

    I guess next year we will see an increase in taxes to pay for all the wasteful spending you created.

    June 19, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. AbolishPoliticalParties

    30 years i've lived in America. Never have I or anyone I have heard of observed a "juneteenth". Will you celebrate the first day a black person popped a pimple on their behind as a free person too? Seriously, Obama.. you have a LOT of work to do and you're wasting time on this statement? GET TO WORK ALREADY. THE CAMPAIGN IS OVER.

    June 19, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Charlie in Maine

    More than two years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation...........Texas has always been "a bit slow" to accept such things although the beat Arizona to MLK Day so I guess they are not the "slowest".

    June 19, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. ysidero

    I can't wait to hear from the tea-baggers about how the President should be personally picking up BP's tar balls instead of making a statement in recognition of this occasion. It's shameful that it took 2 years to implement the Emancipation Proclamation, and this observance should remind us that we must, as a nation, be vigilant about creeping racism and prejudice. Bad economic times bring out both the best and worst in a society, we should listen to the *better angels of our nature*, and not give in to selfishness and fear.

    June 19, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. MS Redhead

    "This occasion, which became known as Juneteenth, is now celebrated here in America and around the world . . . ." Juneteenth must be celebrated only in the Black community, because this is the first time I've ever heard of it. Between MLK Day, Black History Month, Million Man March, Miss Black America, Mr. Black America, Mrs. Black America, NAACP Awards, BET Awards, BET Classic, chained car tags, etc., why on earth do we need ANOTHER reminder that the slaves were freed? Do you really think White folks will forget? Why not just pick the day the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to celebrate the end of slavery so we can have 364 days to celebrate something else?

    June 19, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. W L jones

    Everything in Texas either big or slow.

    June 19, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. Lois Taulbee

    Interesting! First time I've heard of Juneteenth.

    June 19, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. Roger

    I guess the next logical thing for Odumwa is to change it to National Obama Day?

    June 19, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. JeffW

    Happy Juneteenth, all!

    June 19, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. mamacoo

    Oh, wow!!! President Obama has recognized Juneteenth. Some people are bound to be upset with that.......

    June 19, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |