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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 16, 2023

Coast Guard celebrates Juneteenth on June 21

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG Writer  

The Coast Guard will host honored speaker U.S. Rep. James Clyburn on June 21, to recognize Juneteenth and celebrate freedom.  

You can join in person at CG headquarters in the Ray Evan Conference Center or on Teams at 11 a.m. EDT or call in at 410-874-6742 with conference ID 765 026 791#. 

Clyburn has represented South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District since 1993. Prior to serving in Congress, Clyburn was a public-school teacher, employment counselor, director of two youth and community development centers, and an advisor to the South Carolina governor. Clyburn’s advocacy and public service has been instrumental in protecting the rights of Black and other marginalized communities across America. 

Juneteenth is America’s newest federal holiday. It is observed on June 19 to mark the official end of slavery in the United States. The day has long been celebrated by Black Americans as a symbol of their emancipation — but the story behind the holiday and how Juneteenth got its meaning starts more than 150 years ago in Galveston, Texas. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, as the nation entered the Civil War’s third year. The proclamation declared that most of the more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states were free. For those who were largely isolated from Union armies, life continued as if the Emancipation Proclamation did not exist. This was the case in Texas, where thousands of slaves were unaware of their declared freedom. On June 19, 1865 — over 2 years after President Lincoln declared enslaved persons free — Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and Union Army troops marched to Galveston to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. They freed over 250,000 Black Americans, the last enslaved people in Texas.  

Opal Lee, also known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” played a large part in making Juneteenth a federal holiday by campaigning for decades. At the age of 89, she conducted a symbolic walk from Fort Worth, Texas, in Sept. 2016 to Washington, D.C., where she arrived in Jan.  2017. Lee’s efforts succeeded, as a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joseph Biden in June 2021. She was an honored guest at the bill signing ceremony. On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice. We honor the centuries of struggle and progress led by abolitionists, educators, civil rights advocates, lawyers, activists, trade unionists, religious leaders, public officials, and everyday Americans who have brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise. 

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Dial-in: 410-874-6742, Conference ID: 765 026 791#