For the first time, on June 20, 2022, Los Angeles will commemorate Juneteenth – which marks the ending of slavery in our nation – as an official City holiday. Let that sink in.
Two years ago, at the height of civil unrest in 2020, I introduced a motion to create the holiday, which the African American community has long celebrated. Seeing this moment finally come to fruition should serve as a place of great pride for every Angeleno.
Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a proclamation making Juneteenth a City holiday, with the LA City Council affirming by resolution on June 17.
From the moment the first African was kidnapped from their homeland. Torn from their families. Shackled to the bottom of a slave ship. Put on an auction block and sold like animals. Deprived of their humanity. Forced to do back-breaking labor, subjected to insidious acts of violence to this bittersweet moment.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation “officially” ended slavery on January 1, 1863, it was more than two years later on June 19, 1865, that 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas learned that they were actually free. Even after they were informed of their freedom, their former owners tried to prevent them from leaving.
The exuberant echoes and loud cries of our ancestors are being heard, marking a new chapter for Black history.
Juneteenth: The acknowledgment of a day that represents relief from the perils of one of our nation’s darkest chapters. A date that carries significant historical reckonings for Black Americans in both courage and resilience.
The recognition of Juneteenth from the Federal government and now with the second largest City in the United States signals a changing tide. One that is long overdue in the name of equity, racial justice and dignity.
As a 71-year-old Black man in America, I have lived through the struggles and understand first-hand the toll it has taken on our people.
The journey for Black Americans has been long and winding, filled with a bruised, shameful past. However, embracing the pain and remembering and honoring our sacrifice strengthens and unites us. In spite of the adversity and suffering, our culture continues to be one of purpose, promise and hope.
On this Juneteenth, I want to pay homage to past generations that paved the way for our communities to advance forward on a more dignified path. Let us take pause this Juneteenth to own our history. From the good, the bad and in between, it is through the trials and tribulations that the resilience of our human spirit radiates.
While Juneteenth is about confronting injustices honestly and openly. It is also about acceptance, allowing current and future generations to learn and grow from our country’s past transgressions.
This is a beautiful moment in time. People, especially our youth, are finding their voices in the fight against atrocities. Humanity is reinvigorated and is leading the way to achieving a more fair and equitable treatment for all people. The significance of Juneteenth has come out of the shadows and into the light for the rest of the world to understand and celebrate with us.
The faith and vigor of our African American community is unshakeable, proving time and time again that we stand ready to overcome the injustices of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The holiday will be recognized as a City holiday on June 19 every year. Should the 19th fall on a Saturday, the holiday will be observed on the preceding Friday, and if it falls on a Sunday, like this year, it will be recognized on the following Monday.
Juneteenth for the Black community serves as our freedom day, our true day of emancipation. This will now be a day of remembrance for our City. Happy Juneteenth, Los Angeles!
The Honorable Curren D. Price, Jr. is the Los Angeles City Councilmember for District 9.