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Statement by Senator Obama Honoring Juneteenth Celebration

June 19, 2008

Chicago, IL - Today, Senator Obama issued the following statement honoring Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

"On this day, one hundred and forty-three years ago, Union soldiers reached the final outposts of the Southwest with news that the Civil War had ended; that the words of Lincoln's proclamation would be made real; that the very ideals of liberty, justice, and equal citizenship under the law embedded in the Constitution were closer to being fully realized. On Juneteenth, hundreds of thousands of Americans were delivered from bondage as America finally reclaimed her dignity.

"We pause to remember Juneteenth because it is a poignant reminder that words on a parchment are not always enough; that we the people must always be willing to do our part to ensure that all citizens, regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation are equal heirs to the boundless opportunity America has to offer.

"We pause to remember that our nation has made tremendous progress, but has many miles to go on the long march toward finally fulfilling the ideals of this country. When too many Americans go without affordable healthcare or a quality education; when neighborhoods unravel due to a housing market in crisis; when special interests hold their thumbs on the scale of opportunity; we have more work to do.

"Juneteenth is a day for celebration of freedom and family, but also a day that calls us all to rededicate ourselves to the convictions at the heart of our American experiment. It reminds us that with the work of each successive generation, we come closer to the realization of that more perfect union."

Barack Obama, Statement by Senator Obama Honoring Juneteenth Celebration Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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