NEW YORK (June 18, 2021) – National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement in response to President Biden signing legislation to declare Juneteenth a federal holiday:
“The National Urban League celebrates Juneteenth and thanks Congress and President Biden for passing and signing this important piece of legislation into law.
“Juneteenth celebrates the end of legal slavery in America and recognizes the date in 1865—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation—that enslaved Africans in Galveston, Texas were informed of their emancipation. Many major corporations, including the NFL, Mastercard, Lyft and Uber, have made the day a paid holiday, as have media companies such as New York Times, Washington Post and Vox Media. The National Urban League, too, has designated Juneteenth an official paid holiday.
“This congressional recognition, and signing by President Biden, should be commended as it gives this generation and those to come an annual opportunity to learn and recognize the role that chattel slavery—in all of its vile brutality—played in the founding of this nation. But this day must not be a substitute for the efforts that need to be made to reform our policing system, our criminal justice system, and the economic and education inequities in America.
“As the nation prepares to observe Juneteenth this weekend, and federal employees enjoy a day off, we are engaged in a bitter battle over the teaching of history, particularly the acknowledgment of white supremacy’s role in shaping our laws and institutions. So today, I thank all of those who supported this legislation. This is the beginning of the beginning of what I hope will be a time of transformation in American life to truly understand how slavery and its legacy of segregation have contributed to the disparities that exist in American life.”