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Engel Cosponsors Juneteenth Legislation

Engel Cosponsors Juneteenth Legislation

Congressman Eliot Engel joined dozens of his House colleagues as an original cosponsor of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, legislation which would mark the end of slavery in the U.S. by making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced to the remaining slaves that they were finally free. This announcement came nearly two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Every year we celebrate Juneteenth Independence Day, but given all that’s happening in our country, this year’s 155th anniversary of Juneteenth must be a time to reflect on our own roles and opportunities to further our awareness of racial injustices and inequities,” Engel said. “The call for true justice and racial equality must be heard, and it is long past time that the Congress recognizes the sheer significance of Juneteenth. That is why I am proud to support the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, legislation that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday. This past week, Governor Cuomo made Juneteenth a holiday for state workers; I believe the entire nation should follow suit.

“We also must honor this solemn day with tangible reforms that address unchecked racial bias in policing and the forces of systemic racism. That is why I am working with my colleagues in the House to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which I have also cosponsored. This bill would not only honor the memory of George Floyd, but address unchecked racial bias in the policing of communities of color, ban the use of excessive force by police officers, implement strong transparency measures, and hold police more accountable for their actions while on duty by reforming qualifying immunity protections.

“But the issue of systemic racism does not just stop at police brutality. We as a nation must push for reforms across the board, including efforts to address the systemic racism within American schools, health care institutions, and voting rights. That is how we truly honor and acknowledge the significance of Juneteenth.”