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June 18, 2021

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Celebrating Juneteenth

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2021 — The American Bar Association is proud to join the nation Saturday in celebrating Juneteenth, which commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned slavery had been legally abolished and that they were free.

This end of slavery was a monumental step that moved the United States toward a more fair and equitable society. But it should not be overlooked that it took more than two and a half years for the enslaved in Texas to learn about this important news. It demonstrates that, in America, actual equality and equality on paper can be two different things.

After a year in which our nation has seen far too many acts of racial injustice and many historic protests against those acts, Juneteenth is a launching point for more national engagement and discussion about our history and the systemic race problems we still endure. As a country, we celebrate the abolition of slavery, while recognizing the need to address our current issues and strive to create a more equitable society.

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