Today, Governor Tom Wolf joined the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs for a Juneteenth celebration at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg.
June 19 is Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, when union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, the furthest point in the south, with news of the end of the Civil War. Enslaved people there were previously unaware they had been freed more than two years earlier when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, or that Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia two months earlier.
“Juneteenth marks the day when slavery truly ended in America – nearly two years after the formal proclamation was signed,” said Gov. Wolf. “The fight for true freedom for all in America certainly didn’t end with the emancipation proclamation. It didn’t end with women’s suffrage. It didn’t end with the civil rights movement.
“This is an important piece of our history – how many Americans have been marginalized and forced to fight for their rights. When we celebrate Juneteenth, we honor that history, and we honor all of the people who have stood up, time and time again, to demand that our nation live up to the ideals inherent in the Declaration of Independence: freedom, liberty and equality for all.
“As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, I particularly want to thank the Advisory Commission on African American Affairs for all of your hard work, today and every day, to advocate for Black Pennsylvanians all across the commonwealth.”
“The commission and I are so proud of the work the Wolf administration has done around educating Pennsylvania residents about Juneteenth and honoring the importance of this holiday in the Commonwealth,” said LaDeshia Maxwell, Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs Executive Director. “We encourage everyone no matter your race and ethnic background to attend a local Juneteenth event, so we can continue to build a commonwealth and nation that accurately depicts history, acknowledges our wrongs, and seeks ways to foster and build equity and fairness for all Pennsylvanians – now and in the future.”
On June 19, 2019, Governor Wolf signed legislation which designates June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania. In 2021, Juneteenth was also designated a federal holiday.
“In 2019, I was proud to sign legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday,” said Gov. Wolf. “This momentous day is an important part of Black history, and of our country’s history. It takes all of us working together to ensure that our country lives up to the true promise of American democracy. On Juneteenth, we celebrate how far we’ve come, honor the people who fought to get us here, and recommit ourselves to the work still to come. Established by Executive Order 2015-07, the Governor’s Commission on African American Affairs serves as the commonwealth’s advocate agency for the African American community in Pennsylvania. The commission ensures that state government is accessible and accountable to African American Pennsylvanians while working to expand and enhance the civic, social, educational, cultural, and economic status of the African American Community.