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Juneteenth here in Oregon

Today, we observe Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day in 1865 when freed slaves in Texas heard about their freedom for the first time, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. For more than 150 years, much of America didn't recognize today as a holiday.

But 2021 is the year when that's finally changing. This week, President Biden signed a bill recognizing Juneteenth, and yesterday, millions of people observed Juneteenth as a federal holiday for the first time.

Here in Oregon, the legislature voted to make Juneteenth a state holiday beginning in 2022. And today, I testified on I testified on a bill I am Chief sponsoring with senators James Manning and Lew Frederick to remove the “exception clause” that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime. The bill now heads to the house floor for a vote.

Officially marking days like Juneteenth – our nation's second independence day – and giving people time to do the same, is an important step in our continued pledge to never forget the mistakes our country has made, and the hardships our fellow Americans have had to endure.

We still have a long way to go as a nation in our pursuit of true equity for all. On issues like these, it's critical to listen, reflect, and continually search for opportunities to address our past by preparing for a brighter future.


Posted on June 19, 2021.