Statement by NOW President Christian F. Nunes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Fourth of July approaches, I urge NOW members to remember that “liberty and justice for all” did not apply to everyone until much later. June 19th marks the day when federal troops marched into Galveston, Tex. in 1865 to take control and make certain that all enslaved people were freed – two and a half full years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has had many names over the years: Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, Freedom Day but it wasn’t until 2021 when the day was finally recognized as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth serves as a day to remember the past, acknowledge the present, and fight for the future. The legacy of slavery persists in both overt and subtle forms with systemic racism being intricately entangled in this country’s criminal justice, education, housing, and healthcare systems in addition to other vital aspects of life. Now more than ever, it is important that in commemorating those that came before us, we do not shy away from the fact that racial injustice is not a relic of the past. Instead, we must actively combat it in its many forms everyday. Attempts to ban Black history and books that educate people on the United States’ dark past must continue to be blocked at every turn as they are constant reminders that the fight continues in the midst of opposition.
While it is necessary to reckon with the struggles, we cannot be defined by it. We must also celebrate Black resilience and resistance in the face of continued adversity and discrimination. NOW is committed to fighting racial injustice, and we rededicate ourselves to dismantling systems of oppression that exclude and restrict rather than include and protect. I encourage you to join us as we work for equality for all.