NATIONAL JUNETEENTH OBSERVANCE FOUNDATION (NJOF)
NATIONAL JUNETEENTH CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL (NJCLC)
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF JUNETEENTH JAZZ PRESENTERS (NAJJP)
NATIONAL JUNETEENTH HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman
P.O. Box 269 Belzoni, Mississippi 39038
December 12, 2013
(5) Invitation to attend the Chicago Juneteenth Jazz and Heritage Festival
Dear President Obama:
Thank you again for your 2012
statements concerning Juneteenth
in America. We are very proud of your accomplishments as the first African American president to occupy the White House
history. However, we are very concerned that you did not acknowledge Juneteenth
in 2013. Is there a reason why you did not recognize Juneteenth
during the fifth year of your presidency?
Since becoming President, we have been rebuffed in our efforts to contact you. You have yet to personally respond to any of our invitations to participate in the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
or host any Juneteenth
activities at the White House
As you know, Juneteenth
, or the "19th of June"
, recognizes June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom in the last state to practice enslavement in the United States, following the end of the Civil War. This occurred more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation
was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of General Order #3
by General Granger, our ancestors, released from the tyranny of enslavement, celebrated jubilantly, establishing America's second Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African American holiday observance.
is now recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 42 states
and the District of Columbia
. It has been acknowledged by the passage of ten U.S. Congressional Resolutions
. During the 112th Congress
, on the "19th of June"
, legislation was introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas)
, S.J.R. 45
, to make Juneteenth Independence Day
a National Day of Observance
, like Flag Day
or Patriot Day
Despite having 30 co-sponsors, the legislation was blocked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Sen. Harry Reid (D- Nevada). We are urging members of the U.S. Senate
to sponsor and reintroduce the legislation during the current 113th Congress
We renew our invitation for you to participate in the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
. We encourage you to personally acknowledge the significance of America's second Independence Day by hosting a celebration of freedom at the White House
We urge you to acknowledge the accomplishments of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of enslavement at the 15th Annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
. As was the case with the U.S. Capitol
, the White House
was built by enslaved Americans of African descent. Our ancestors have made many significant contributions to the building of the infrastructure of America during enslavement that have yet to be acknowledged.
The leadership of our "Modern Juneteenth Movement"
worked closely with former Congressman J. C. Watts (R-OK)
in 1996 & 1997
to urge the U.S. Congress
to acknowledge the contributions of our ancestors in building two of the most important structures in the history of our democracy. Their building of the U.S. Capitol
was finally recognized in 2009 by the U.S. Congress
during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol
. However, the leaders of our grass roots movement, who initiated the recognition of our ancestors, were not even invited to attend the ceremony.
We ask that you and members of your administration be respectful of our accomplishments and support Juneteenth
initiatives in 2014. Since our historic movement began in 1994, we have worked to gain greater recognition for Juneteenth
and to honor the Americans of African descent who contributed so much to the building of this country. Our efforts have been ignored and unappreciated by many national leaders.
During our 2011 WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
, I was honored to be the first African American leader to address the Department of Interior (DOI)
on the occasion of Juneteenth
history. Former Secretary of Interior
, Ken Salazar, was not even courteous enough to attend the function or even greet me as the keynote speaker. Secretary Salazar did not respond to my letter
concerning the establishment of a national park and monument at the site of the landing of the First Africans in America
We ask for support for the celebration of Juneteenth
on military bases with members of the Armed Servives. Secretary of Defense
Chuck Hagel, has yet to respond to letters
encouraging for him to acknowledge the historic significance of Juneteenth
. Our Juneteenth
initiatives include honoring the African American Army engineers who built the historic Alcan Highway
, completing the building of the Sikinni Chief River Bridge
on the "28th of October"
, in 1948
We request that you issue a Presidential Proclamation
to establish Juneteenth Independence Day
as a National Day of Observance
in America, similar to Flag Day
or Patriot Day
. Your proclamation will support legislation in the U.S. Congress
concerning gaining greater recognition of Juneteenth
As a state senator and U.S. Senator
from Illinois, we thank you for supporting legislation for the official recognition of Juneteenth
by the Governor and state legislature of Illinois in 2003. We also appreciated your sponsorship of legislation to recognize Juneteenth
in the U.S. Senate
in 2006. It was a great honor to personally receive special recognition from you as the only African American member of the U.S. Senate
and Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), both from my home state of Illinois, with other members of congress, for advocating for the official recognition of Juneteenth
at the U.S. Capitol
We also continue to urge the U.S. Senate
, followed by the U.S. House of Representatives
, to pass legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day
a National Day of Observance
, to be completed by your signature as President of the United States
We continue to encourage members of the U.S. Senate
to support the passage of another Senate Apology For Slavery
, with concurring legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives
It was wonderful to learn about the U.S. House of Representatives Apology For Slavery and Jim Crow
sponsored by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) in 2008 and similar legislation that was passed in the U.S. Senate
sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in 2009. We hope to have the legislation passed during the week of Juneteenth 2014
with both the U.S. House of Representatives
and the U.S. Senate
concurring, to be completed by your signature as President of the United States
We prayerfully invite you to address those in attendance at our National Juneteenth Memorial Maafa Wreath Lying Ceremony
, which is part of the annual National Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the Legacy of Enslavement
, held annually on the "18th of June"
. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5:00pm, at Lincoln Park Emancipation Memorial
, acoss th street from Lincoln Park United Methodist Church
, Rev. Dr. Diane Dixon-Proctor, Pastor
, 1301 North Carolina Avenue, N.E., in Washington, DC.
Our first National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement
was the result of the second historic introduction of Congressional Apology For Slavery
legislation by former Congressman Tony Hall (D-OH) on Juneteenth
, the “19th of June”
, 2000. As the leader of the “Modern Juneteenth Movement”
in America, I was honored to work closely with Congressman Hall on the apology as an important step toward racial healing and reconciliation in America. Since that time, several states have passed apology for slavery legislation including Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Florida.
We now observe the annual World Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement
on the "20th of August"
, in Hampton, VA, including a prayer service at Fort Monroe National Monument
and Richmond, VA, with a tour of the Richmond Slave Trail
. The "20th of August"
commemorates the date the first slave ship, the White Lion
, landed in Virginia at Old Point Comfort
, today's Fort Monroe
, from the shores of West Africa. This occurred on the "latter end of August, 1619"
, with the arrival of twenty Angolans, America's first Middle Passage
We invite you to attend our annual Juneteenth Jazz Legacy Reconciliation and Healing Concert
, at the American Theatre
, in Hampton, VA. The concert is a fundraiser for the 1st Africans Monument Fund
sponsored by Project 1619, Inc.
The concert is part of the annual World Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the Legacy of Enslavement
and the 1st African Landing Day Commemoration
America needs healing from the scars of enslavement. The annual observance of Juneteenth
in America affords the country a tremendous opportunity to constructively reflect on our legacy of enslavement and move forward as a unified nation. As the leader of our country, your public participation in Juneteenth
will be instrumental in bringing all Americans together in a spirit of unity and reconciliation.
We also request your support for "June is Juneteenth African American Jazz Legacy Month"
during African American Music Appreciation Month
through events and programs sponsored by the National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP)
and the African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC)
. "June is Black Music Month" - CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH JAZZ - "Preserving Our African American Jazz Legacy!"
and the month where the "19th of June"
, Juneteenth Independence Day
is celebrated throughout America.
We hope to schedule a future performance of the AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band
during the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
. It would be a greater honor for these talented college music students to receive an invitation to perform for you at the White House
We also invite you to celebrate Juneteenth
with us in my hometown of Chicago, IL, at the annual Chicago Juneteenth Jazz and Heritage Festival
. The festival is hosted by our National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
board member and Director
of the Coalition of Improved Education in South Shore (CIESS)
, your friend and neighbor, Lestine Byars.
Thank you for your continued participation and support for our annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
and efforts to establish Juneteenth Independence Day
as a National Day of Observance
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
Founder & Chairman
On MLK Day, President Obama Posts Emancipation Proclamation in Oval Office