|HOUSTON – Please attribute the following statement to Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“I commend President Biden for signing a bill to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day. From this day forward, the federal holiday will remind the nation of the historical struggles Black Americans faced and the incredible progress made in the United States.
“I also thank Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Sen. John Cornyn for helping to pass the legislation through the U.S. Congress.
“Today’s recognition honors the many African-Americans, who have fought for decades to have Juneteenth National Independence Day. This includes my late friend, the Honorable Al Edwards. Al fought an uphill battle with considerable opposition to ensure that the state of Texas recognized the importance of that day in 1865 when Gen. Granger arrived in Galveston and read the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Al Edwards was determined to make Juneteenth a state holiday. He was successful in 1979 when the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1016, making June 19 a state paid holiday in Texas. From that moment, Al was known as the ‘Father of Juneteenth’ and the significance of the holiday gained national and international attention.
Mayor Turner presents a proclamation to the late Honorable Al Edwards.
“And now, to reach this milestone where the House and Senate passed this legislation that has now been signed by the president of the United States is a true testament to Al Edward’s legacy. Texans and Americans owe a great deal of gratitude to State Representative Al Edwards, the father of Juneteenth, for making this moment a reality.
“For years, I have hosted a Juneteenth parade in Acres Home as a unifying event to celebrate freedom. This year, the holiday will carry a special meaning, as we gather with family, friends, and neighbors throughout the country.
“Although today’s announcement takes us one step closer to equality, we know that our work is not finished. Unfortunately, we see examples of racial injustice and inequity on a near-daily basis, and we must call it out and hold those in power accountable.
“Juneteenth is as important to the story of America as the Fourth of July – it recognizes that the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness apply to all.”