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Public Statements

Juneteenth Independence Day

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


JUNETEENTH INDEPENDENCE DAY -- (Senate - June 16, 2005)

Mr. OBAMA. Madam. President, I was pleased to join the Senator from Michigan, Senator Levin, in submitting a resolution on the Juneteenth Independence Day.

I have heard people ask, ``Why celebrate Juneteenth?'' We have so many holidays and remembrances already--why add more history to the calendar?

But of course, Juneteenth is not just about celebrating history. It is about learning from it. Just like the day when the greatest civil rights leader of our time was born or the day when we finally gave African Americans a ballot and a voice, Juneteenth is a day when we can look back on a time when everyday Americans faced the most daunting challenges and the slimmest odds and still persevered. When they said ``we shall overcome,'' and they did. When the hopes held by so many for so long finally led to the victory of freedom over servitude; of independence over enslavement.

Juneteenth is a day that allows us to remember that America is still the place where anything is possible. It has been that place in the past, and it can be that place in the future when it comes to the challenges we have yet to meet.

And so when we think of those challenges--when we think of the injustice we still face and the miles we have left to march--when we think of the millions without health care, the children without good schools, the families without jobs, and the disparities that still exist between black and white, rich and poor, educated and uneducated--when we think about all these challenges, we can also think ``Juneteenth.''

We can think of a day when the word began to spread from town to plantation to city to farm that after more than a hundred years of slavery, millions were now free. That after so many hopeless days and years of despair, the impossible was now truth; the shackles were now broken and a new day was finally here.

In the memory of this day, I believe we can find hope for all the trying days we have yet to face as a people and as a nation. And as we continue to overcome, we will continue to celebrate those victories as historical markers that give future generations the same hope we have today.

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