June 19, 2020

Van Hollen Statement on Juneteenth

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement marking the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth: 

“Juneteenth, June 19, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It marks the day when the news that President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation finally made it to Texas – the last state to get the news – though it was more than two years after it happened and months after the Civil War had ended. 

“The story behind Juneteenth goes to the heart of our history, and it should be a national holiday. It is both a celebration of freedom and a solemn reminder of the painful legacy of slavery that we must directly confront to achieve the goal of building a more perfect union. It is important to reflect on Juneteenth to recognize its connection to our urgent work to eliminate systemic racism in all its ugly forms. 

“As Marylanders across our state come together to commemorate this day, we must look ahead to how we will build a better future. The Congress must take immediate action for change. And together, we must continue fighting to ensure equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunity for all.” 

Senator Van Hollen is a cosponsor of legislation announced today by Senators Ed Markey, Tina Smith, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday.