FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (4/12/02)
Contact: Gary Lawson
Iowa Juneteenth Celebration Committee
web site: www.iowajuneteenth.org
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., MD, Chairman
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)
web sites: www.19thofJune.com
Iowa Governor Vilsack Signs Juneteenth
National Freedom Day Bill into Law
(Des Moines, IA) - On Thursday, April 11, 2002, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D-IA) signed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday in Iowa. The holiday, known as Juneteenth National Freedom Day, will be observed on the third Saturday of June. "This is a great day for Iowans," states Gary Lawson, Chairman of the Iowa Juneteenth Committee. "We've been working toward this holiday for more than ten years!"
The Republican controlled House and Senate unanimously passed the historic legislation, establishing Iowa as the seventh state to recognize Juneteenth as an unpaid state holiday observance. Lawson commended the Iowa General Assembly for the warm reception and assistance he received from both Democrats and Republicans. "This is a significant gesture by Iowa when considering that African-Americans comprise just about 2% of the state's population," said Lawson. "This act is a great stride toward bringing all Americans together to celebrate our common bond of freedom."
Juneteenth, or the "19th of June", recognizes the day, on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union Major General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest, the last major vestige of slavery following the end of the Civil War, through the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This occurred more than two and a half years after the after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and enforced by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of General Order #3 by General Granger, the former slaves celebrated jubilantly, establishing America's second Independence Day Celebration. Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Delaware, Alaska, Idaho and now Iowa.
"Efforts are continuing to establish Juneteenth as a National Holiday in America," states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr, MD, Chairman of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign. "We are urging President Bush to issue a Presidential Proclamation establishing Juneteenth as a National Holiday in America, without the burden on taxpayers as a paid federal holiday. As the former governor of Texas, where Juneteenth began as a paid state holiday, President Bush should understand the historic opportunity Juneteenth brings to all Americans together to promote racial reconciliation and healing through the celebration of the end of slavery in America."
Gary Lawson, who plans to lead a delegation of Iowans to the nation's capitol to participate in the National Juneteenth Rally at the US Capitol on Wednesday, the "19th of June", 2002, looks forward to joining Dr. Myers and thousands of Juneteenth celebrants from across America. "I'm proud to be from Iowa," states Lawson. "Iowa is proud to recognize Juneteenth in America. It's time for Juneteenth to become a National Holiday in America."
For information on the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2002 National Holiday Observance and the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign call Dr. Myers at 202-331-8864, 662-247-1471, e-mail: MyersFound@aol.com, web sites: www.19thofJune.com, www.njclc.com or www.njof.org. For information on the 5th Annual National Juneteenth Convention & Expo contact John Thompson of Juneteenth America, Inc. at 909-988-5810, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, web site: www.JuneteenthConvention.com.