On June 19, 1865, more than two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War, these powerful words were finally read in Galveston, Texas: “All slaves are free.” Texas was the last Confederate State to free thousands of people from slavery. This momentous day went down in history as Juneteenth, commonly known as Freedom Day.
Every year, Juneteenth parades and speeches across the country honor the end of legal slavery and freedom of every American, one of the greatest human rights victories in United States history.
Unfortunately, 148 years after the first Juneteenth and 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, we have not ended slavery. There are more slaves today than at any other point in history, and thousands of these people trapped in slavery are right here in the United States. They are in brothels, factories, agricultural fields, and, shockingly, our neighbors’ homes. Slaves have even been found working for foreign diplomats in the U.S.
Slavery has gone on far too long. To end it will take all of us working together. This means, individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments working side by side, using their talents and voices to bring justice and freedom to people in our country and the entire world.
As we celebrate the abolition of legal slavery, let’s get it out of our system once and for all.