Saturday is “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance” in California, with Gov. Gavin Newsom urging all its residents “to reflect on the ongoing cause of freedom for Black Americans.”
A 2002 law requires California’s governor to proclaim the third Saturday in June as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance,” and urge all Californians to join in celebrating this day to honor and reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in the history of the United States and how they have enriched society through their steadfast commitment to promoting freedom, brotherhood and equality.
“This year, Juneteenth celebrations take place amid continued calls for justice, with people across the nation speaking out against systemic racism and its deadly consequences for Black Americans,” Newsom wrote in his proclamation.
“These demonstrations, fueling important reforms throughout the United States, are the latest contributions to building a more perfect union — where liberty and justice are indeed `for all.”’
Thousands of people gathered for parades and marches Friday to mark Juneteenth in Los Angeles County, and multiple organizations gave their employees at least part of the day off on the anniversary of the day the last slaves in the Confederacy were freed.
Hundreds of people gathered for a parade in Inglewood, starting near the Forum and traversing View Park, Windsor Hills and the Crenshaw District, passing well-known Black-owned establishments and businesses before ending at Leimert Park.
“At large, the growing attention paid to Juneteenth offers our nation a rare opportunity to reflect upon and grapple with the stain left from the ugly and depraved institution of human enslavement,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told City News Service. “… While Juneteenth represents the end of legalized slavery, the nation was so ill-equipped to envision and build a society in which formerly enslaved people enjoyed equality across the spectrum — in housing, education, employment, justice and health care — that the next 150 years have been characterized by one uphill battle after another: a struggle led by Black people and their allies to incrementally balance the scales of justice.
“Here and now, in 2020, we are staring down the disheartening truth that recent protests and unrest have laid bare: that freedom and justice in these United States has always been delayed — and continues to be delayed — for the descendants of enslaved people who built its infrastructure and grew its economy for free.”
International Longshore & Warehouse Union dockworkers at the Port of Los Angeles and 28 other West Coast ports stopped work for eight hours in observance of Juneteenth.
Chase closed its branches at 1 p.m. local time nationwide in observance of Juneteenth.
“Closing the branches enables many of our colleagues to join in the celebration and reflect on not only America’s achievements, but also its enduring effort to acknowledge its flaws and become a better nation,” JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon wrote in an message sent to U.S. employees Wednesday.
Friday was a paid university holiday at Loyola Marymount University.
The Los Angeles Lakers gave their players and staff Friday off to observe Juneteenth, encouraging them to “use the day to pause, further educate ourselves and reflect on both the history and the current state of race in our country,” according to a statement from the team.
The Lakers announced a donation Friday in celebration of Juneteenth to More Than A Vote, the organization recently started by Lakers all-star forward LeBron James and a group of prominent Black athletes and entertainers aimed at protecting African Americans’ voting rights. The amount of the donation was not disclosed.
The donation announcement came one day after the Lakers announced the hiring of UCLA African American studies and sociology professor Karida Brown as their director of Racial Equity & Action.
June 19 will annually be a company-wide holiday for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club, which launched a petition Tuesday on Change.org calling for Juneteenth to be a federal holiday. The petition had received more than 18,000 signatures by early Saturday.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday tweeted his support of making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“We know the struggles of Black Americans didn’t end on June 19, 1865,” Garcetti tweeted. “But this day must be a regular reminder of the importance of lifting up the voices and stories of Black people in L.A. and nationwide.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris joined three Senate colleagues Friday in announcing they will introduce a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“On Juneteenth, we remember the millions who suffered, died, and survived the crushing reality of slavery in America, and recommit ourselves to continuing in the fight for equal justice for all,” Harris said. “Without question, it should be recognized with the respect of a federal holiday.”
The other sponsors of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act are Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts, Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.
Juneteenth marks the anniversary of Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger reading General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, which began, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas. It is a paid holiday for state employees in Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania.
In his presidential message on Juneteenth, President Donald Trump said, “Juneteenth reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation. It is both a remembrance of a blight on our history and a celebration of our nation’s unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness.
“That ability is rooted in the fundamental goodness of America — in the truths upon which we, as a nation, declared an end to our status as the subjects of a monarch and emerged as a free and independent people — that all men are created equal by the hand of God, endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“These words form the heart of what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the `promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.’ The celebration of Juneteenth marks an important milestone in the hard-fought journey to make good on that promise for all Americans.”
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