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Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

Baltimore County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
20th Juneteenth Celebration
June 15, 2013

It’s great to be here with all of you in Randallstown for the Baltimore County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc.’s 20th Annual Juneteenth Celebration.

Juneteenth is a great American holiday. Try, for a moment, to imagine the scene that day in Galveston, Texas: Backed by 2,000 federal soldiers, Union General Gordon Granger stood on the balcony of Ashton Villa — a stately home that was built by slaves and served as the headquarters for the Confederate Army — and declared that all Confederate laws were void and that all slaves were free.

This news came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — an unthinkable news cycle by today’s standards. Imagine the joy of the former slaves as they celebrated their newfound freedom in the streets under a Gulf Coast moon, their jubilant voices resounding through the night sky.

Yes, Juneteenth is an awesome day to be an American.

But it’s vital to our future as a democracy that we remember and learn from the mistakes of our past equally as much as we rejoice in our successes. As we celebrate today, let us not forget that forms of modern-day slavery still exist all over the world, even here in this country, nearly 150 years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment that declared “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist in the United States.”

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, it is estimated that as many as 27 million men, women and children around the globe are victims of human trafficking.

This is not just an American problem. This is a human problem that requires our immediate attention. As a society, we must continue to raise awareness and take action to end the epic tragedy of human trafficking once and for all.

In the words of renowned Nigerian author and African Studies expert Chinua Achebe, "Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform.”

Baltimore County Juneteenth Celebration Day Proclamation

I couldn’t have said it better. I’m not sure that anyone could. And so, without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to present you with this proclamation designating June 15, 2013, Juneteenth Celebration Day in Baltimore County:

WHEREAS, in January 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation giving freedom to the slaves, and on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after slavery had officially ended, freedom became a reality for the slaves in Texas; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth symbolizes and celebrates this freedom and the end of bondage; it is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery and reminds us of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of enslavement; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth is now a time for all Americans to honor our independence and human and civil rights, to reflect on the progress we have made as a nation, and to gather with family and friends to acknowledge and celebrate our differences; and

WHEREAS, in Baltimore County and across the country, people are reflecting upon an unsettling period in our history and using that experience to shape a better future for the next generation, emphasizing equality, education and achievement; and

WHEREAS, we welcome the commemoration of Juneteenth as a celebration of the spirit and contributions of African Americans to our county, our state and our nation, and we commend the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., for the exceptional service they provide to our community.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kevin Kamenetz, as County Executive of Baltimore County, do hereby proclaim June 15, 2013, as “JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION DAY” in Baltimore County, and do commend this observance to all citizens.

 
Revised April 6, 2016         

 

Contact

County Executive,
Kevin Kamenetz
Phone: 410-887-2450

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