What Juneteenth means to Rep. Sanford Bishop

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia’s 2nd district took some time with WRBL to reflect on the significance of Juneteenth.

Yesterday President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making Juneteenth a National holiday. The state of Georgia has recognized the holiday since 2011.

On Juneteenth the Black American community celebrates freedom from slavery, because for 2 years after the emancipation proclamation, Black people were still enslaved in the state of Texas. They had 2 more years of their lives, labor, and liberty stolen on top of the 246 years America had the institution of slavery.

“I think it’s really really appropriate and I’m happy for the generations gone,” said Bishop. “For our ancestors, and I’m happy that we are recognizing the significance of June 19, Juneteenth.”

The Congressman went on explain the history and reason for the holiday.

“Word did not get to Texas. To Galveston until June 19th. That was 2 years of bondage that should not have been. I’m delighted that we now have the recognition of that milestone in history. It’s was late, but it came, and freedom was granted to the slaves in the Galveston area. I’m just delighted that the country has recognized it at the highest levels, and we have a national holiday which will be a commemoration of a sad time in our history.”

Congressman Bishop appreciated the steps taken by government and what that means for the Black Community.

“We get to a point where we recognize mistakes our country has made and moving forward to rectify them to reach that more perfect union that we have been striving for since the founding of our republic. I’m just happy to be able to join with our people all across the country. In recognizing the significance of this day and to reflect upon what it means to African Americans as a people as descendants of former slaves. And hopefully what it will mean going forward for all of the people of the united states which is a pluralistic country. And I think that going forward this will mean a great deal to us.”

The Congressman went on to reflect further on the Black freedom struggle as a whole, and what Juneteenth being recognized means in that struggle as a whole.

“As I reflect, we have made a lot of progress a tremendous amount of progress. That progress has been cyclical. We had progress during reconstruction, and of course we had regression in Plessy v. Ferguson, and of course we just celebrated [the memory of] another milestone and that was Tulsa.”

“Which reminded us that things are cyclical. And of course, following Tulsa we has the era of segregation which took us up through the Civil Rights Movement. So, we’ve made great progress and we did make great progress, But that progress was tempered Because During the Regan Years we sort of took a backstep.”

“We continued and we got voting rights Implemented and we realized the fruits of the voting right’s act. We had lots of Black elected officials and lots of new people participating in the electorate, and Barrack Obama was elected That was a great achievement, but then following Obama we got another step back in the Trump administration.”

“So were dealing with history that was cyclical what it tells us is that freedom is a constant struggle. That’s what Fredrick Douglass said at the end of the 1800’s he said freedom is a constant struggle, and I think those words are true today. So we reflect on George Floyd. As we reflect on what’s happening with voting rights and the struggle that we are planting ourselves in again.”

“Of course, the 1965 voting rights act we’re facing the same issues over and over again. We just have to remind ourselves that in the name of our ancestors who went through so much. And the succeeding generations that had to pick up the torch and run with it. We have got to keep the struggle going, because freedom is a constant struggle.”

Listen to Rep. Sanford’s full comments in the video below.

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