In January of 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation; but in Galveston, Texas, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, two and a half years later, that a Union general arrived and informed enslaved Americans that they had been emancipated.

On June 15th of this year, the Senate unanimously passed a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a National holiday. The House approved the measure on the 16th and on June 17th, President Biden signed the bill to establish Juneteenth as the 11th National holiday.

Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States (over 100 years ago) and the beginning of greater freedom for Black Americans, yet we’re still far from being a country in which all men and women are treated equally.

We deeply believe the establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday is the right thing to do and it’s also important to remember that the creation of a national holiday does not excuse us from the work we need to do in our cities, states, communities, and the nation, to create a more equal life for Black Americans.

Even as we celebrate the recognition of this important holiday, some states are working to limit voting rights and refusing to acknowledge that systemic racism is woven into our country’s foundation. Some of the same senators who voted for the creation of a national holiday are undermining the fundamental rights of Black Americans.

We all have work to do to right the wrongs in our society. Therefore, we suggest that this Juneteenth, when acknowledging the holiday we say, “I recognize Juneteenth and its importance,” to remind one another that together we can ensure that all black lives do in fact, matter.