Juneteenth, a celebratory tradition dating back to 1865 upon the notice of the end of the civil war and the freeing of slaves as announced in Texas, has held little fanfare over the years nationally – until now.
Recent tragic events related to the unfair treatment of communities of color under the law and a national discussion on racism and black lives in America has raised the profile of this celebration held on June 19th of each year.
The event is generally marked with festivals, rodeos, and food with the traditional strawberry soda as the main drink. This year, however, the date has a new tone – reform and redirection.
Although based upon the proclamation of freedom for blacks, Juneteenth is more a reflection of the promise of equality for African Americans.
As Chair of the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, I expect to have hearings on several bills dealing with police reforms leading to positive social connections and interactions with communities of color in the extremely near future. In doing so, I realize the origins of Juneteenth was a step in recognizing one phase of America’s authoritative relationship with communities of color.
This Juneteenth, I encourage us all to commemorate the day as a call-to-action to support social justice and civil rights causes that help transform our nation into a country of true equals in the eyes of the law.
Wishing you a memorable Juneteenth celebration, happiness, and good health.
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer