National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
Celebration of Freedom
October 8, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
RE: (1) Invitation to participate in the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
- Request to host a White House Juneteenth Celebration honoring the enslaved who built it,
including a performance by the AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band in support of
"June is Juneteenth African American Jazz Legacy Month" during
African American Music Appreciation Month
- Invitation to speak at the National Juneteenth Black Holocaust "Maffa" Memorial Service
(2) Request to issue a Presidential Juneteenth Proclamation
(3) Invitation to attend the Chicago Juneteenth Jazz & Heritage Festival
(4) Invitation to attend the Juneteenth Jazz Legacy Reconciliation and Healing Concert
during the 1st African Landing Commemoration Day and the
World Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the Legacy of Enslavement
Dear President Obama:
Thank you again for your 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009 statements concerning Juneteenth in America. We are very proud of your accomplishments as the first African American president to occupy the White House in U.S. history.
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.
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.
Juneteenth is now recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 41 states and the District of Columbia. It has been acknowledged by the passage of eight U.S. Congressional Resolutions. On the "19th of June", Juneteenth 2012, legislation was introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance, like Flag Day or Patriot Day.
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 in June.
We urge you to acknowledge the accomplishments of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of enslavement at the 14th 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 2013. 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 in U.S. history. Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, was not even courteous enough to attend the function or even greet me as the keynote speaker for the program. Secretary Salazar has yet to 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 and other historic programs on military bases. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, has yet to respond to letters encouraging for him to acknowledge the historic significance of Juneteenth. Our annual programs 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 in America.
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, Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), both of you from my home state of Illinois, with other members of congress, for advocating for the official recognition of Juneteenth at the U.S. Capitol in 2008.
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 2013 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 Black Holocaust “Maafa” Memorial Service, which is part of the annual National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement, held on the "3rd Friday in June". The service will take place on June 14, 2013. The worship service is scheduled to begin at 4:30pm, at 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 in America.
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
Founder & Chairman
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)
National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP)
Informational Flyer – 2013 National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement
Calendar of Events – 2013 WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance
Informational Flyer – 2013 World Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement
Informational Flyer – "June Is Black Music Month!" - CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH JAZZ - "Preserving Our African American Jazz Legacy!" - CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH JAZZ -
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