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Celebration of Juneteenth

Location: Washington, DC

CELEBRATION OF JUNETEENTH -- (Senate - June 19, 2006)

Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, today marks the anniversary of a joyous day in our Nation's history. It was on this day in 1865 when word finally reached the farthest corner of the Southwest that all slaves were free. More than 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, this was the day freedom became a reality. After hundreds of years of servitude and oppression, this was the day that former slaves claimed their rightful place as equal citizens. Juneteenth was the day our Nation reclaimed its dignity.

Today, Juneteenth is still a celebration of freedom. It is an opportunity for engagement and self-improvement, a time to reflect and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of justice and equality. Juneteenth is about acknowledging where we have been as a Nation, looking honestly and critically at our past, and gaining a fresh understanding of the challenges we face as we look toward the future.

Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, this is a day for us to assess the quality of education we are providing to our children. Forty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, this is a day for us to think of the injustices that must be overcome, the millions without health care, the families without jobs, and the disparities that continue to divide us.

Juneteenth should be a reminder to all Americans that we must not resign ourselves to waiting for a better time to do what we know is right. This is the day we honor previous generations for the great strides they have taken toward creating a more just society. This is the day we honor future generations by undertaking with determination the work that is yet to be done.


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