WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced he will soon introduce a bipartisan bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Currently, Juneteenth is celebrated by 47 states, including Texas, and the District of Columbia. Excerpts from Sen. Cornyn’s floor speech today are below, and you can watch video here.
“One of the most defining days in our nation’s history was when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, finally freeing all slaves in Confederate territory. But slaves in Texas wouldn’t learn this life-altering news for two and a half years.”
“It took two and a half years for the slaves in the south to learn that they were free. And that day came on a day we now celebrate as Juneteenth.”
“These free men and women set out to spread this news, as you would expect, with many traveling toward Houston.”
“As we do every year, tomorrow Texans will celebrate Juneteenth and the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery in our state. 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.”
“That is especially true this year. 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.”
“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.”
“There is a clear and urgent need for leaders at every level to come together, and to deliver the change that we need to deliver, in order to match up with our ideals.”
Earlier this week, Sen. Cornyn’s resolution honoring Juneteenth this year passed the Senate. He has been the lead author of the resolution annually since 2011. Sen. Cornyn’s bill with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) for a federal study of an National Emancipation Trail from Galveston to Houston, following the path of slaves freed on June 19, 1865 to spread the news, was signed into law in January.