President Obama Juneteenth Legacy


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Will President Obama Make Juneteenth a National Day of Observance?

By Yannie Givens     June 25, 2011

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Juneteenth Leaders Press President Obama for Day of Observance

By Kitty Pope     June 1, 2013

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Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman
P.O. Box 269     Belzoni, Mississippi 39038
662-392-2016     662-247-4767 Fax

May 19, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

1. Issue a Presidential Juneteenth Proclamtion during your last year in office
2. Host a Juneteenth Celebration at the White House during your last year in office
3. Work with the U.S. Congress to establish Juneteenth as a National Day of Observance during your last year in office

Dear President Obama:

2016 marks the last year of your historic legacy as the first African American U.S. President. It is also the last year that Juneteenth can be acknowledged and celebrated at the White House.

Since becoming President, we have been rebuffed in our efforts to contact you. You have yet to personally respond to any of our invitations to participate in the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance or host any Juneteenth activities at the White House.

As you know, Juneteenth, or the "19th of June", recognizes June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom in the last state in rebellion to allow enslavement, following the end of the Civil War. This occurred more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of General Order #3 by General Granger, our ancestors, released from the tyranny of enslavement, celebrated jubilantly, establishing America's second Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African American holiday observance.

Juneteenth is now recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states. In 2003, the District of Columbia passed legislation to recognize Juneteenth as a district holiday observance.

Since 1997, the U.S. Congress has unanimously passed legislation recognizing Juneteenth for several years. For example, in 2011, Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) sponsored H.R. 323 and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) sponsored of S.R. 211, "Observing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day" in America.

In 2014 & 2015, the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation, S.R. 474 and S.R. 201, recognizing the "19th of June" as Juneteenth Independence Day in America.

We continue to urge you to acknowledge the accomplishments of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of enslavement at the 16th Annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance. As was the case with the U.S. Capitol, the White House was built by enslaved Americans of African descent. Our ancestors have made many significant contributions to the building of the infrastructure of America during enslavement that have yet to be acknowledged.

The leadership of our "Modern Juneteenth Movement" worked closely with former Congressman J. C. Watts (R-OK) in 1996 & 1997 to urge the U.S. Congress to acknowledge the contributions of our ancestors in building two of the most important structures in the history of our democracy. Their building of the U.S. Capitol was finally recognized in 2009 by the U.S. Congress during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. However, the leaders of our grass roots movement, who initiated the recognition of our ancestors, were not even invited to attend the ceremony.

We request that you issue a Presidential Proclamation to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance in America, similar to Flag Day or Patriot Day. Your proclamation will support legislation in the U.S. Congress concerning gaining greater recognition of Juneteenth in America.

As a state senator and U.S. Senator from Illinois, we thank you for supporting legislation for the official recognition of Juneteenth by the Governor and state legislature of Illinois in 2003. We also appreciated your sponsorship of legislation to recognize Juneteenth in the U.S. Senate in 2006. It was a great honor to personally receive special recognition from you as the only African American member of the U.S. Senate and Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), both from my home state of Illinois, with other members of congress, for advocating for the official recognition of Juneteenth at the U.S. Capitol in 2008.

We also continue to urge the U.S. Senate, followed by the U.S. House of Representatives, to pass legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance, to be completed by your signature as President of the United States.

America needs healing from the scars of enslavement. The annual observance of Juneteenth in America affords the country a tremendous opportunity to constructively reflect on our legacy of enslavement and move forward as a unified nation. As the leader of our country, your public participation in Juneteenth will be instrumental in bringing all Americans together in a spirit of unity and reconciliation.

We hope that you will join us in the celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day in America.


Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
Founder & Chairman
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)
National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP)


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