BALTIMORE — On Friday, Mayor Jack Young sent out a statement in honor of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, or June 19, 2020, marks 155 years since that day in 1865 when Black slaves, in Galveston, TX, learned that they had been granted their freedom two years earlier at the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.
The word is a combination of June and nineteenth because, on that day, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army arrived to Galveston and read General Order No. 3 which informed slaves that the Civil War had ended and that slavery had also been abolished. The roughly 250,000 slaves living in Texas, at that time, were shocked to hear that their freedom was old news to everyone but them.
Mayor Jack Young sent out the following statement on the day:
While Juneteenth is still not a national holiday, during the 20th century, and particularly after the advent of the Black Power movement of the 1960s, the celebration of Juneteenth has grown exponentially. Throughout the centuries, the anniversary has echoed through Black communities via protests, marches, and festivals, often as personal crusades by community activists and teachers.
Juneteenth is a holiday meant to celebrate the word of ‘Emancipation,’ finally coming to a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas.
However, through the current status of race relations in the United States, a shift in the relationship between police and communities, and generational change, history is shouting a new word to us, ‘Equity.’ It is evident in the multicultural and multi-generational voices of protesters.
History will record that on Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday January 15, 2020, Baltimore heeded history's call by renaming the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Equity and Civil Rights, and adding Equity in services and community development funding to the mission of all city agencies.
I hope that on this ‘Juneteenth’ you will join us in heeding the call of history.”