Congressman James E. Clyburn

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Congressman Clyburn Commemorates Juneteenth's 140th Anniversary

June 17, 2005

(Washington, DC) - House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair James E. Clyburn (D-SC) issued the following statement in recognition of the 140th Juneteenth celebration on Sunday, June 19th.

            "Juneteenth is the commemoration of African American Independence Day.  On this June 19th, we celebrate the 140th anniversary of slaves in Galveston, Texas learning of the Emancipation Proclamation, some eighteen months after its effective date, and we reflect on the unheralded contributions of slaves to this nation's history. 

            "Recent events in our nation highlight that we have yet to overcome all the vestiges of slavery.  On Capitol Hill last month, a committee was launched to document the contributions of slaves to the construction of our magnificent Capitol Building.  Just this week, the U.S. Senate formally apologized for failing to enact legislation to criminalize lynching in the years that America struggled with the rights of former slaves and their descendents.

            "These events underscore the inadequacy of passivity and the cruel impact that slavery, and much of its aftermath, has had on our country and its citizenry.  On this Juneteenth, I hope our nation focuses on what we can do to move beyond our past and build a better future.  We can start by reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, which expires in 2007.  This legislation is crucial to protecting the voting rights of minority citizens and is essential to insuring that minorities continue playing a vital role in our country."

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