(Washington, D.C.) – On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, Congressman Al Green released the following statement to commemorate Juneteenth:
“This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first documented arrival of Africans brought to America and forced into chattel slavery. The trajectory of slavery closely paralleled the fight for independence and the foundation of the United States. However, there came a point when the freedom Americans sought from British authority was obtained, and enslaved individuals still suffered in cotton fields and on auction blocks without freedom of their own. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas were given news of the abolition of slavery more than 2 years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. While the proclamation declared that all slaves in the Confederacy would be free from then on, many of these individuals remained enslaved until Union soldiers delivered the news.
“Since slavery, there have been several discriminatory systems put in place to prevent Americans of African ancestry from attaining or even reaching for the American Dream. One of those systems was convict leasing, slavery by a new name according Reginald Moore Convict Leasing and Labor Project Founder/President. Convict leasing allowed states to lease individuals from prisons for free labor. Many of the prisoners were victims of illegitimate convictions rooted in systemic racism and oppression under the draconian Black Codes that upheld white supremacy in the Antebellum South. In Texas, these individuals built historical buildings and landmarks we still use today like the State Capitol and the Fort Bend County Courthouse among several others. It is alleged that they were forced to harvest the sugarcane that gave the City of Sugar Land its name. They have become known as the Sugar Land 95 and are among the many others across our country that endured harsh, backbreaking labor akin to the conditions some of them survived during slavery.
“In our celebrations of Juneteenth, we must never forget the legacy of racially discriminant practices against African Americans since slavery. We cannot forget the disparities in education, voter access, criminal justice, housing, lending, applying for and obtaining jobs, healthcare, and various other aspects of human life. This Juneteenth, I encourage us all to not only reflect on this long history of hate and inequity but also to look toward the future and see how it can be better tomorrow and every day after. We owe it to the Africans forcibly brought here 400 years ago, to the slaves that received the news of emancipation 154 years ago, and to ourselves as we continue to work toward actualizing the notion that all persons were created equal.”
Source: Source/Photo credit: Congressman Al Green