CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – With America engaged in an intense search for justice and equality for all citizens, Mayor Joe Pitts proclaimed Friday as “Juneteenth” in Clarksville and urged citizens to take part in this celebration of African-American freedom.
“Juneteenth,” combining the words June and Nineteenth, is rooted in history and celebrates the end of slavery in America. More than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, at the time a distant outpost, and on June 19, 1865, belatedly announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery.
Black Texans began the celebration of June 19 the next year, marking the day of liberation with parades, prayer gatherings and feasts. As freed families emigrated from Texas to other parts of the United States, they carried the celebration with them, and the tradition lives on.
“The celebration of Juneteenth reminds us of the precious promises of freedom, equality and opportunity which are at the core of the American Dream,” Mayor Pitts said. “As the strife of recent weeks in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd has shown, the promise of the American Dream remains unfulfilled for many. I urge citizens to embrace Juneteenth as a good time to build unity in our community and pursue freedom, equality and justice for all.”
Here is the full proclamation:
WHEREAS, the City of Clarksville is home to people from many places and backgrounds, who are declared equal not only in freedom but also injustice, both of which are essential for a healthy community; and
WHEREAS, our nation was conceived on July Fourth, 1776, with the Declaration of Independence, and its classic statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness;” and
WHEREAS, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring the slaves in Confederate territory “forever free,” paving the way for the passing of the 13th Amendment which formally abolished slavery in the United States of America; and
WHEREAS, on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery. His announcement reads: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor;” and
WHEREAS, Texans began the celebration of June 19 in 1866, with community events such as parades, cookouts, prayer gatherings, musical performances, and historical-cultural readings. As freed families emigrated from Texas to other parts of the United States, they carried the celebration with them, and
WHEREAS, now June 19 has a special meaning to African Americans, and is called "JUNETEENTH," combining the words June and Nineteenth, and has been celebrated by the African-American community for more than 150 years; and
WHEREAS, Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and celebrates the successes gained through education and greater opportunity; and
WHEREAS, on a larger scale, celebration of Juneteenth reminds each of us of the precious promises of freedom, equality, and opportunity which are at the core of the American Dream; and
WHEREAS, our nation and community are engaged today in a renewed, intense and important affirmation of justice and equality for all citizens, regardless of race, creed or ethnicity;
Now, Therefore, I, Joe Pitts, Mayor of the City of Clarksville, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2020, as Juneteenth in Clarksville, and urge all citizens to become more aware of the significance of this celebration in African-American History and in the heritage of our nation and City.