June 10, 2011

STATEMENT ON JUNETEENTH 2011

On June 19th, we celebrate the 146th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.  Juneteenth, or June 19, is the day Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation and freed all remaining slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. 

As we celebrate this day, all of us have an opportunity to reflect on the importance of our nation’s ideals of liberty, equality and justice, and to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all Americans enjoy the “inalienable” rights afforded them in our Constitution.   

Maryland was not immune from the horrors of slavery. In 1790, more than 100,000 people or about 1/3 of the state’s population, were slaves.  Marylanders, however, can take pride in the fact that two of our own -- Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass – were leaders in the anti-slavery movement and remain national symbols in the quest for liberty and justice.

Juneteenth is a reminder about our nation’s history and of what our ancestors endured and overcame.  Today, we celebrate that and honor the spirit of Juneteenth.