Kinsey-Brown resolution celebrates Juneteenth National Freedom Day

HARRISBURG, June 19 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution (H.R. 375) introduced by Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Vanessa Brown, D-Phila., which recognizes the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania.

Juneteenth celebrates the heritage, family and community spirit of African culture. The celebrations originated in 1865, when 13,000 black Union soldiers from Pennsylvania escorted Gen. Gordon Granger to Galveston, Texas, to read Order No. 3 and free the last slaves in the United States, kick-starting a 140-year-old “Juneteenth” tradition that today recognizes both the freedom of slaves and the endurance of African culture in North America.

"It is hard to imagine today, in our world of instant communication, that it took almost three years for the freedoms granted in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to be expressed to the slaves in Texas," Brown said. “This celebration represents a triumph of the human spirit over slavery. It’s a salute to the soldiers who carried the message to Galveston, to every last slave who was freed after the Civil War, and to the African culture that endured even the most stringent oppression,” Brown said.

"Diversity and inclusion are critical components of our country’s development and success. If a group of people are not allowed to participate culturally, we fail to understand and appreciate our differences and similarities. We fail to develop socially, and ultimately we fail as a country,” Kinsey said. “We commemorate this day to the freedom of the millions of Africans who survived their harrowing journey, and to the continued education and achievement of African-Americans today.”

Juneteenth National Freedom Day is recognized as the oldest African-American holiday observance in the United States.