BROWNBACK ADDRESSES JUNETEENTH EVENT
Contact: Senator Sam Brownback (United States Senator - Kansas)
c/o Erik Hotmire
303 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2001
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback today spoke at the Washington Juneteenth Annual Observance held on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building. He addressed three related topics: the importance of commemorating Juneteenth, the legislation to establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and modern-day slavery.
"I commend Rev. Dr. Ronald Myers and his committee for their work in ensuring that Juneteenth is nationally commemorated and celebrated in our nation's capitol," Brownback said. "It is paramount that we continue to educate our nation and future generations on the legacy of African Americans."
In May, Brownback along with Sen. Max Cleland, Reps. John Lewis and J.C. Watts introduced bi-cameral, bi-partisan legislation to establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. "There are over 200 African American history museums across the nation that tell portions of the African American story," Brownback said.
"Yet on the national mall, there is no museum set aside to honor this legacy. This story must be showcased at a national level. I believe that this museum will both celebrate African American achievement and serve as a landmark of national conscience on the historical facts of slavery and the Civil Rights struggle."
"We cannot undo the history of slavery in America. However, we can learn from it. We often seek to avert our gaze from ugly periods in our history. Only by squarely facing our past can we learn from it and help ensure that similar injustices will never happen again."
"We have an extraordinary opportunity before us - a chance to learn, understand, remember and honor our nation's history together and an opportunity to end the horrible practice of slavery worldwide," Brownback said.
The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) was founded in 1999 by Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D. Juneteenth refers to the date June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX to inform by proclamation from the Executive of the United States that all slaves were free. Texas was the last state to receive this official order. The former slaves of Texas marked this occasion by celebrating their freedom on this date, commemorated the date by naming it "Juneteenth" and passed the tradition onto their descendants.