Introduced Version Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 History

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(By Senators Rucker, Woelfel, Swope, Trump, Caputo, Roberts, Phillips, and Weld)

[Introduced February 15, 2021]


Recognizing June 19 as Juneteenth Day.

Whereas, Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Emancipation Day, Emancipation Celebration, and Freedom Day, is the oldest African-American holiday observance in the United States; and

Whereas, Juneteenth commemorates the strong survival instinct of African Americans who were first brought to this country stacked in the bottom of slave ships in a month-long journey across the Atlantic ocean known as the Middle Passage; and

Whereas, In September 1862, President Lincoln issued the celebrated Emancipation Proclamation, warning the rebellious Confederate states that he would declare their slaves “forever free” if those states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863; and

Whereas, Enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation occurred only in Confederate states that were under Union Army control; and

Whereas, On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery throughout the United States and its territories; and

Whereas, Spontaneous celebration erupted throughout the country when African Americans learned of their freedom; and

Whereas, Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed when General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and issued General Order No. 3, almost two and one-half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation; and

Whereas, For former slaves, the Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, praying, and gathering remaining family members together. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date; and

Whereas, Today, Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and planning for the future; and

Whereas, Juneteenth symbolizes freedom, celebrates the abolishment of slavery, and reminds all Americans of the significant contributions of African Americans to our society; therefore, be it

Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Legislature hereby recognizes June 19 as Juneteenth Day; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the Senate is hereby directed to forward a copy of this resolution to the Honorable Jill Upson, Executive Director, Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs.

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