By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in the United States were told they were free. June 19 is now a state and federal holiday. Many local lawmakers took to Twitter or made statements to commemorate the day.

Sen. Ed Markey: 

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“We commemorate Juneteenth as the day that word of emancipation finally reached enslaved people in Texas in 1865, but we know the struggle for true Black liberation continues. Today we must recommit to right the wrongs of the past and ensure equal justice in the future.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 

“On June 19, 1865 — 156 years ago today — Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and declared that slavery was finally over.

The formerly enslaved people of Galveston erupted in joy. Ever since, today has been known as Juneteenth: the annual and oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

This year, for the first time, it’s an official federal holiday, too — passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden this week.

I’m very happy that Juneteenth is finally getting the official recognition it deserves. It’s a chance to tell the story of how even in the face of oppression, Black Americans throughout our history have never stopped imagining and fighting for a better tomorrow. Not just for themselves, but for our entire nation.

Of course, it isn’t enough to get together and celebrate how far we’ve come. We have to get together and see how far we need to go.

Just look back at the history: On that first Juneteenth, it had been over two years since President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation — but freedom on paper doesn’t always mean freedom in practice.

Today, we have to recommit ourselves to rooting out systemic racism in every aspect of our economy and society — including health care, housing, education, banking, policing, and voting.

Over a year into a nationwide racial reckoning, we still have to confront white supremacy in all of its forms. We must cement the unshakeable truth that Black lives matter.

I understand the responsibility that I and others have as white Americans to ask what we are doing to dismantle a system that has too often undervalued Black life. We cannot just be allies. We must be actively anti-racist. We have to fight alongside everyone who’s still waiting for justice.

That’s what I’m remembering today as we honor Juneteenth.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley:  

“Today, on June 19, we commemorate the freeing of the last slaves in the United States — more than two years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today, we celebrate Black resilience and Black joy, and acknowledge our shared journey towards liberation. Our work isn’t over. In this country, Black and Brown folx still face ongoing, systemic oppression, disenfranchisement, and racism.

Recently, lawmakers in states across the nation — from Texas to Georgia — have attacked the sacred right to vote, seeking a return to the policies of Jim Crow.

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That’s why this Juneteenth, I invite you to join me in lifting our collective voice by adding your name in support of the For the People Act.

The For the People Act would expand automatic and same-day voter registration and voting access — including vote-by-mail and early voting, reinstate critical voter protections, and fight back against efforts to drown out the voices of everyday people. These policies are critical to building a more just and equitable country, for everyone. They are a continuation of the struggle for civil rights that has gone on since the very earliest days of our nation.

Today, we celebrate and we recommit ourselves to the work ahead. Add your name now in support of the For the People Act and send a message that we will not stop working to lift our collective voices — both on the streets and at the polls.”

Rep. Jim McGovern: 

“Today, for the first time in history, we recognize #Juneteenth– commemorating the end of slavery in the United States– as a national holiday. This is not an end, but a beginning. We must remain relentless in our mission to achieve true justice & equity for ALL Americans.” 

Rep. Richard Neal: 

“#OTD: 156 years ago Union troops arrived in Galveston, TX to announce that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. Today we celebrate their freedom & recommit to working to ensure these communities’ voices are heard.” 

Rep. Lori Trahan:

“We recognize the progress of the past 156 years, but know we have a tremendous amount of work ahead to build a truly just and equitable society,” she wrote, in part. “Together, we’ll commit ourselves to uprooting discrimination, inequality & racism in all its forms. We’ll work to dismantle racism across all of our institutions and systems. And we’ll build a more perfect union, where our diversity is our strength and inclusion our power.”

Rep. Katherine Clark:

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“Over 150 years after slavery was abolished in the United States, we commemorate Juneteenth by recognizing how far we have come in the march towards racial equality and how far we have to go to achieve true Black liberation. Establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday is a significant step forward as we work to breathe truth and reconciliation into our past and present. Now, we must follow this action with further progress by protecting voting rights, reimagining policing, and pursuing reparations for African Americans. Our work is not complete until every person is honored with respect, dignity, and justice.” Staff