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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 19, 2002
I send greetings to those celebrating Juneteenth.
June 19 provides an opportunity for all Americans to reflect on the ideal of freedom and to learn more about the end of slavery. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, with news the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. The joyous, but belated, announcement came two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation declaring 'that all persons held as slaves -- within the rebellious states -- are, and henceforward shall be free.'
The celebration of Juneteenth has its roots in Texas, but the holiday is now observed in many parts of the country with picnics, family gatherings, parades, and community programs. The day is a fitting time to celebrate freedom from slavery and for all Americans to reflect on the rich contributions of African Americans to our Nation.
As we celebrate Juneteenth on June 19, I encourage all Americans to reaffirm their commitment to achieving equal justice and opportunity for all citizens. Laura joins me in sending best wishes on this special occasion.