The Honorable George Bush|
United States of America
P.O. Box 1902
Austin, TX 78767
Dear President Bush:
Congratulations on becoming the next President of the United States. In your acceptance speech earlier this week, you stated your commitment to bringing the nation together to work for the good of the country. I stand ready to work with you toward the goal of achieving greater harmony and racial reconciliation in America as the leader of the "Modern Juneteenth Movement" and the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign.
The 2nd Annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2001 National Holiday Observance, will
take place June 16-19, 2001, at the Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and U.S.
Capital Grounds, sponsored by the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF). The 2nd Annual National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Slavery, will take place on the "19th of June", 2001, sponsored by the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC). As Chairman of the NJOF and the NJCLC, the goal of establishing Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Holiday and working to bring racial healing from the legacy of slavery in America during the observance of Juneteenth continues as a calling God has placed on my life.
As the Governor of Texas, where Juneteenth is a paid state holiday and where
it all began in Galveston, on the "19th of June", 1865, we hope that you will
support our efforts to establish Juneteenth as a National Holiday in America.
This letter is written as an open invitation for you to address the nation on the "19th of June", 2001, during our WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2001 National Holiday Observance.
I am also writing to request that you issue a proclamation concerning Juneteenth Independence Day, the "19th of June" in the United States. America's "Independence Day Movement", initiated by the Declaration of Independence and the "4th of July", 1776, did not include the enslaved descendants of African-Americans nor were they recognized as full human beings. Freedom from slavery was initiated by the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and formally announced by Union General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas on the "19th of June", 1865, through the reading of General Order No. 3, to the last group of slaves in
bondage. This created America's 2nd Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African-American holiday observance, the "19th of June", Juneteenth Independence Day.
The "19th of June" is the freedom forerunner to the 13th Amendment, which implemented freedom for all slaves in the United States. Juneteenth Independence Day completes the cycle of Independence Day Celebrations in America, beginning with the "4th of July", 1776 and ending with the "19th of June", 1865. In 1997, the 105th Congress of the United States passed Senate Joint Resolution 11 and House Joint Resolution 56 officially recognizing Juneteenth Independence Day in America. Your Presidential Proclamation is all that is required for Juneteenth Independence Day to be recognized as a National Holiday without being a paid federal holiday, but officially
recognized on calendars throughout communities across America.
Juneteenth Independence Day continues as the traditional celebration of the day of which the last slaves in America learned of their freedom. Although slavery was officially abolished in 1863, news of freedom did not spread to all slaves for another two and a half years, on June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger, rode into Galveston, Texas and announced that the state's 200,000 slaves were free. That first Juneteenth was a joyous occasion as the newly freed Americans of African descent danced and celebrated with jubilant voices their freedom. It did not take long for Juneteenth celebrations to spread beyond Texas and the states in the Southwest region into other parts of the country.
Today, millions of Americans of all races, creeds, religions and countries-of-origin, in hundreds of cities, towns and communities across the nation celebrate Juneteenth. This is due in large part to the hard work and dedication of individuals and national organizations like the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council and Juneteenth America, Inc. We continue to sacrifice and fight for Juneteenth Independence Day to be recognized as a National
Our historic 1st WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2000 National Holiday Observance, June
17-19, 2000, at the Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and the U.S. Capitol Steps, was both a joyous and monumental occasion at the Nation's Capitol. Unfortunately, your schedule would not allow you to address those in attendance. We thank you and appreciate your enclosed letter of greeting acknowledging WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2000.
Juneteenth is now a state holiday in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Delaware. Many more states including Maryland, Virginia, New York, California, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio, Connecticut, Tennessee, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Alaska, Indiana, Idaho, Rhode Island, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Mississippi and Montana have recognized Juneteenth Independence Day through legislative resolutions and the future introduction and passage of Juneteenth State Holiday Bill legislation.
As Juneteenth celebrations continue to spread, so does a greater appreciation of African-American and American history. We must revive and preserve Juneteenth not only as the end of a painful chapter in American history, but also as a reminder of the importance of preserving the lines of communication between the powerful and powerless in our society. All Americans share a common love of and respect for "freedom", as well as a determination to protect the democratic institutions through which the "tenets of freedom" are guaranteed and protected.
For the foregoing reasons, we respectfully urge you to issue a proclamation proclaiming Juneteenth Independence Day as the day of recognizing the end of slavery in America. An announcement on Tuesday, the "19th of June", 2001, from the White House, concerning the proclamation, would be a truly historic and monumental occasion. The White House and the U.S. Capitol were constructed through the uncompensated slave labor of the ancestors of Americans of African descent. Mention of their contributions to the building of America would truly uplift many throughout the nation.
We also make the humble request for you to establish a Presidential National Juneteenth Commission to make recommendations to you and future presidents on how the annual observance of Juneteenth Independence Day will bring all Americans together with the important goal of promoting greater understanding and racial healing. Your endorsement and support of the National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Slavery during the annual observance of Juneteenth Independence Day would be a needed inspiration to the nation.
The "19th of June" or Juneteenth Independence Day along with the "4th of July" completes the "cycle of freedom" for America's Independence Day observances. "Until All are Free, None are Free" is an oft repeated maxim that can be used to highlight the significance of the end of slavery in the United States.
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
JUNETEENTH 2001 NATIONAL HOLIDAY