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Reflecting on Juneteenth

By Sen. Tim Kaine

Special to the Guide

One hundred fifty years ago, Major-General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas bearing news that would fulfill the Emancipation Proclamation’s promise of freedom. As word broke that the war had finally ended, people began to celebrate the end of slavery in the South.

This day has become known as Juneteenth, and a century and a half later, Juneteenth celebrations continue. I am proud to join Virginians and others across the country in recognizing such a pivotal day in the struggle for freedom, equality, and human rights.

The end of the Civil War marked the start of a new chapter in American history, a chapter finally clean of slavery’s stain. But, the fight for freedom did not end on June 19th, 1865 – it was only beginning.

Those who were finally free from slavery, and their descendants, still had to fight for more than a century to break down educational, political and economic barriers erected to block them from full participation in American life.

Even today, we see a nation that has twice elected an African-American President still struggling with economic inequality and challenging disparities in our criminal justice system.

Juneteenth reminds us of how far America has come in its march towards a more equal society. Even though struggles for freedom and equality still exist today, we know from the past that opening doors of opportunity to all Americans will make us a stronger nation going forward.

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Today, let’s come together in the spirit of celebration and in remembrance for all of those who have fought and died in the name of justice.

Sen. Tim Kaine is a former Governor of Virginia and now represents the Commonwealth as a U. S. Senator in the Congress.

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