FIT President Joyce F. Brown has issued comments about the Juneteenth holiday, celebrated and commemorated by the college this Sunday. Her statement reads as follows:
On Sunday, June 19, FIT joins the rest of the nation in celebrating Juneteenth—a day often called America’s second Independence Day. It is the day, in 1865, in which 250,000 African-Americans, still enslaved in Texas, learned from a Union Army officer that they were free and that the Civil War was over. In fact, they had been legally free for more than two years—which is when the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves.
For those enslaved people in Texas, it was a joyous, watershed moment, and one year later, they started a new tradition with church gatherings throughout the state to honor their freedom. In time, Juneteenth was celebrated throughout the country, particularly in the African American community. In 1980, Texas became the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. Today, it is a federal holiday.
Abraham Lincoln called the Emancipation Proclamation an “act of justice” and while we know there is much work to be done before justice is achieved for Black America, Juneteenth is still a day to celebrate what has already been achieved and to remind all Americans of our nation’s ideals and aspirations of liberty and justice for all.