On this day in 1865, two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, word finally reached the people of Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over. All enslaved men, women and children were now free.
Though it would take decades of struggle and collective effort before African Americans were granted equal treatment and protection under the law, Juneteenth is recognized by Americans everywhere as a symbolic milestone in our journey toward a more perfect union.
With the recent ground breaking of the first Smithsonian Museum dedicated to African American History and Culture, and the dedication of a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall, this Juneteenth offers another opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation. And it’s also a chance to recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of guaranteeing liberty and equal rights for all Americans.