WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced he is introducing a bipartisan bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Juneteenth, celebrated June 19, marks the anniversary of the end of slavery in the state of Texas.
While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the document only freed slaves in Confederate-controlled areas.
The word of the end of slavery did not reach Texas until June 1865, two months after the Confederacy’s surrender to the Union in the Civil War, when Union Army General Gordon Granger delivered the message to enslaved people in Galveston.
The message of freedom surged across the state as slavery was eradicated in Texas.
In December 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery across the entire country.
“As we do every year, tomorrow Texans will celebrate Juneteenth and the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery in our state,” said Cornyn on the Senate floor. “It’s an opportunity to reflect on our history, the mistakes we have made, but yet how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and a reminder of just how far we still have to go.”
During his speech on the senate floor, Cornyn related the celebration of Juneteenth to issues of racial inequality seen today.
“Over the last several weeks, Americans of all races and backgrounds, of all ages, have raised their voice in the fight against inequality and injustice that continues to exist in our society,” continued Cornyn. “As the list of black men and women killed by police officers in custody grows, the calls for action are getting louder and louder, as they must, and as they should.”