Casey Calls for Federal Government to Recognize Juneteenth as Holiday

Casey Calls for Federal Government to Recognize Juneteenth as Holiday

Scranton, PA – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement to commemorate Juneteenth:

"On Juneteenth, we commemorate President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on the day—June 19, 1865—when news of emancipation reached people in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Galveston, Texas. This day came two months after the end of the Civil War and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, a gap which represents a delay in justice that persists to this day. Slavery was officially abolished across the Nation several months later in December of 1865 with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Juneteenth is a celebration and an inspiration for this generation and future generations to come. It is a day to celebrate Black culture and history across our Commonwealth and our Nation. And it is a day for allies like myself to pledge to lift up Black Americans year-round. As we celebrate Juneteenth in the midst of cries for justice, we are called to listen, learn and take action to create change. It is not enough to recognize one important date in history. Once we spend this day in reflection and celebration, we must act. We must propel our Nation forward toward progress. 

I’m proud that Pennsylvania is one of 47 states which recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, and I believe our Nation should recognize this important day in American history as a federal holiday. But commemorating Juneteenth is not a substitute for taking decisive action to protect the lives of Black Americans. Recent events in our Nation highlight that we have yet to overcome all the vestiges of slavery. Black Americans continue to be disproportionate victims of hate crimes and police brutality, and the recent murders of George Floyd and others underscore the inadequacy of passivity and the cruel impact that slavery, and much of its aftermath, has had on our country and its citizenry.

Though Juneteenth celebrations may look different this year, the significance of the day is not diminished. Let us celebrate and elevate our Black communities, and let us use this day to reflect on the work that remains to conquer racism in America. We cannot accept a system—informed by centuries-old prejudices and racial bias—that turns a blind eye to injustice and disregards the value of Black life.

It is past time for our federal government to formally recognize the day when Major General Gordon Granger proclaimed that Americans who had been enslaved in the Confederacy were now emancipated. June 19, 1865 was the dawn of a new era, a jubilant day which has come to represent the strength and resilience of Black Americans. 155 years later, I see this strength and resilience in Black Pennsylvanians. And on this Juneteenth, I am thinking critically about the ways our government has failed Black communities since that fateful day in Galveston, when those who were enslaved were promised freedom and equality. Now, we must not only strive toward better, fairer policies, but we must work every day to pass them into law. Our entire Nation will be stronger for it.

This Juneteenth, and every day, Black Lives Matter."