FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (5/21/16)
Contact: Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)
web sites: www.NationalJuneteenth.com
WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
Returns to the Nation's Capitol
America Celebrates the 151st Year Anniversary of Juneteenth
Myers Urges President Obama & Congress Pass Legislation to Establish
Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance
(Washington, DC) - Leaders of the Campaign to Establish Juneteenth as a National Day of Observance will return to the nation's capitol for the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance, during the 151st year annivesary of Juneteenth in America. Scheduled for June 15-17, 2016, the Juneteenth Flag will certainly be flying at the nation's capitol on the "19th of June".
"We are hopeful that President Obama and the U.S. Congress will finally enact legislation to establish the '19th of June' on all calendars as America's 2nd Independence Day," states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder and Chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF). "We are not asking for a paid federal holiday, but a national day of observance, like Flag Day and Patriot Day."
Juneteenth, or the "19th of June", recognizes June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest. Texas was the last state in rebellion to allow slavery 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, the former slaves 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 state holiday 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 and 2015, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S.J.R. recognizing the "19th of June" as Juneteenth Independence Day in America.
"The U.S. Capitol and the White House were built through the uncompensated labor of the ancestors of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of enslavement," states Dr. Myers. "The leaders of the 'Modern Juneteenth Movement' will continue to honor their contributions in building key American institutions during the annual observance of Juneteenth in the nation's capitol."
In 2010, the U.S. Congress honored the slaves who built the U.S. Capitol with the placement of a historic plaque honoring Philip Reed, an enslaved Black man with a critical role in erecting the Statue of Freedom that crowns the Capitol dome. Reed was the only one who could figure out, when the statue arrived in Washington from Italy, how to disassemble its plaster mold and cast it in bronze.
"The successful effort to honor these great Americans of African descent who built the U.S. Capitol was initiated by the late Lula Briggs Galloway, Founder & President of the National Association of Juneteenth Linage (NAJL)," states Dr. Myers, former Chairman of the Board of the NAJL. "Her historic work at the U.S. Capitol with former Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr. (R-OK) has resulted in the successful placement of an important historic enslavement legacy marker by congress."
In a recent letter, Dr. Myers has requested that President Obama honor the enslaved Americans who built the White House by hosting a Juneteenth Celebration at the White House in June.
"Juneteenth has never been celebrated in the White House," states Dr. Myers. "We hope that President Obama will agree to celebrate freedom and honor the Americans of African descent who were not free when the White House was built during the tyranny of enslavement."
Dr. Myers has also requested that President Obama issue a Presidential Proclamation to recognize Juneteenth. Thousands of petitions have been forwarded to the White House over recent years supporting Dr. Myers' request. "As a U.S. Senator from Illinois, President Obama successfully sponsored legislation to recognize Juneteenth Independence Day in the U.S. Senate in 2006," states Dr. Myers. "We hope that not only will President Obama issue a Juneteenth Proclamation and support legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance, but also lead the nation in healing from the legacy of enslavement."
Former French President M. Jacques Chirac spoke passionately to his nation during the first National Commemorative Day of Remembrance Regarding African Slavery and itís Abolition, on May 10, 2006. Dr. Myers hopes that President Obama will also one day lead America in healing and reconciliation from the legacy of enslavement during the week of the observance of Juneteenth.
"The official recognition of Juneteenth Independence Day and the end of slavery are very significant steps in bringing healing to America from the legacy of enslavement," states Rev. Dr. Myers, also Founder and Chairman of the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC), sponsors of the National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement and the National Juneteenth Memorial Maafa Reef Laying Ceremony in Washington, DC. "As the descendants of Americans of African descent, our ancestors were brought to America in chains. This should never be forgotten."
"The National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement, takes place annually on the '18th of June', during the week of the observance of Juneteenth in America," states Rev. Dr. Myers. "The day was the result of the second historic introduction of Congressional Apology For Slavery legislation by former Congressman Tony Hall (D-OH) on Juneteenth, the '19th of June', 2000. As the leader of the 'Modern Juneteenth Movement' in America, I was honored to work closely with Congressman Hall."
Since that time, several states have passed apology for slavery legislation including Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Florida. The U.S. House of Representatives Apology For Slavery and Jim Crow, sponsored by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), was passed in 2008. Similar legislation that was passed in the U.S. Senate sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in 2009. However, it was not passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and failed as a concurring, joint congressional resolution.
"We hope to finally have legislation passed with both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate concurring," states Dr. Myers. "Perhaps the legislation can include a signature by President Barack Obama."
"We now observe the annual World Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement on the '20th of August' in Richmond, VA.," states Myers. "This commemorates the date the first slave ship, the White Lion, landed in Virginia at Old Point Comfort, today's Fort Monroe, from the shores of West Africa. This occurred on the '20th of August, 1619', with the arrival of twenty Angolans, Americaís first Middle Passage."
"The annual observance of Juneteenth provides America with the greatest opportunity to bring about a constructive resolution to the history of the brutal enslavement of Americans of African descent and the racial conflicts that plague the nation," continues Dr. Myers.
Dr. Myers, who was appointed National Advisory Chairman of America's Black Holocaust Museum by the museum's founder, the late Dr. James Cameron, a lynching survivor, was encouraged by the Senate Apology For Lynching passed in his honor during the week of Juneteenth in 2005.
"It was Dr. Cameron who taught me the importance of forgiveness, patience and reconciliation by his remarkable life," states Dr. Myers. "It led to a U.S. Senate Apology For Lynching. Congress continues to demonstrate sensitivity to issues surrounding the legacy of enslavement in America."
For information on the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance and the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, call Dr. Myers at 662-392-2016, or 662-247-1471; e-mail: JuneteenthDOC@yahoo.com, web site: www.NationalJuneteenth.com.