Cornyn Statement on Juneteenth

Yesterday on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) commemorated Juneteenth, which marks the news of freedom reaching enslaved people in Texas years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln in 1863. Sen. Cornyn has been a leader in introducing a resolution honoring Juneteenth each year since 2011, which he again introduced this year along with 43 of his Senate colleagues. In 2021, Sen. Cornyn and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) successfully passed their law making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video can be found here.  

“Mr. President, one of the most defining days for our country, throughout our nation's history, was when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves.”

“But slaves in Texas wouldn't learn this life-altering news for nearly two and a half years. It wasn't until June 19, 1865—the day we now know as Juneteenth—that Major General Gordon Granger and the Union troops arrived at Galveston, Texas, and shared the news that all formerly enslaved people were now free.”

“In 1979, Texas was the first of what would become many states to proclaim the day Juneteenth as an official state holiday.”

“I've joined a number of those Juneteenth celebrations over the years, but the one in 2021 in Galveston—the birthplace of Juneteenth—will always stand out as one of my favorites.”

“Just two days before that celebration, a bill I authored with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was signed into law, officially establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday.”

“I’d be remiss if I didn't recognize the most tenacious advocate for the Juneteenth holiday, my friend Ms. Opal Lee, who is known as the ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth.’”

“Even though Juneteenth is now a national holiday, Ms. Opal, at the tender age of 97, still walks two-and-a-half miles in the Texas heat… to underscore the importance of continuing to strive for a more perfect union.”

“By making Juneteenth a national holiday, we have ensured that the history and significance of this day will not be relegated to footnotes in a history book. Instead, it will preserve the history of Juneteenth for generations to come, and serve as a reminder of the hard-fought struggle for freedom and reconciliation.”

“I appreciate the hard work and dedication of those who have made Juneteenth National Independence Day possible, and I wish everyone a happy Juneteenth.”


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