Dear Maryland Speaker Jones and Senate President Ferguson,
We the mayors and council members of the Maryland State Chapter of Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO MD) are writing today to express strong support for efforts to make June 19 – Juneteenth – a federal holiday.
We recognize the historical significance of this day in 1865 in Galveston, Texas when Union Major General Gordon Granger declared General Order No. 3 in effect which called for the freeing all slaves. It was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, but it finally would erase what remained of slavery in this country for good.
Early celebrations of Juneteenth were used not only to celebrate freedom and Blackness but also to give voting instructions to newly freed slaves. As we celebrate Juneteenth in Maryland and some 48 other states in our country, we believe it is time to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
There is still much work to be done to reconcile the racist history of our past that cannot be fixed by one holiday. The history of racism stemming from slavery created a long, deep path to current disparities in education, jobs, housing, and healthcare, as well as disproportionate incarceration rates.
As Democratic municipal officials we recommit our cities and towns to working toward rooting out institutional and systemic racism. We will promote racial justice through fair, just, and equitable governing.
We believe that celebrations such as Juneteenth make it clear that black lives matter and they can and should be celebrated for the part they play in the history and fabric of our country.
The Mayors and City Council Members of DMO Maryland