President Trump on Monday released his first Juneteenth statement, recognizing the Army officer who made the announcement that inspired those first Juneteenth celebrations in 1865.
Trump’s statement in full:
Melania and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Juneteenth, a historic day recognizing the end of slavery.
Though President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, news traveled slowly from Washington, D.C., to the southern states. More than two years later, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger stood on the Ashton Villa balcony in Galveston, Texas, to deliver the belated message of the then-deceased President: all slaves were free.
Granger’s astonishing words inspired soulful festivities and emotional rejoicing. Over the years, as freedmen and freedwomen left Texas, they took Juneteenth and its meaning with them. Today, we celebrate this historic moment in 1865, as we remember our Nation’s fundamental premise that all men and women are created equal.
On Juneteenth 2017, we honor the countless contributions made by African Americans to our Nation and pledge to support America’s promise as the land of the free.
By comparison, here’s President Obama’s final Juneteenth statement, which took more of a focus on the freed slaves:
Just outside the Oval Office hangs a painting depicting the night of December 31, 1862. In it, African-American men, women, and children crowd around a single pocket watch, waiting for the clock to strike midnight and the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. As the slaves huddle anxiously in the dimly lit room, we can sense how even two more minutes seems like an eternity to wait for one’s freedom….