Senator Joe Pennacchio today said New Jersey’s first Juneteenth state holiday is a living lesson in American history and an opportunity to unify all races.
“It would be appropriate if state residents of all colors, backgrounds and cultures paused for a moment Friday to reflect on the atrocities of slavery and the bloody Civil War that helped deliver people of color from the crushing cruelties of servitude,” Pennacchio said. “The significance of this commemoration should be so much more than just a day off work. We all have an obligation to learn more about our nation’s past as it applies to race relations and the freedoms we share as Americans.”
On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation declaring that as of Jan. 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
It took almost three more years until June 19, 1865, a month after the conclusion of the Civil War, when Union soldiers led by Gen. Gordon Granger delivered news to the town of Galveston, Texas that all enslaved people were to be free.
They were the last slaves to learn of their freedom.
“Try to imagine the magnitude of this news. People who had been held in ungodly enslavement for their entire lives were now freed from bondage,” said Pennacchio. “For the first time ever, their lives were their own.
“On New Jersey’s Juneteenth holiday, let us celebrate freedom for all men and women. Let’s emphasize the things that bring us together, our commonalities, our mutual dreams, goals and desires that unify us,” Pennacchio said. “Regardless of color, we have more similarities than differences.”
With June 19 falling on a Saturday this year, the state will mark the Juneteenth holiday on Friday, June 18.
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