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celebrating freedom

Today is June 19.

This special day has come to be known as Juneteenth. It was first celebrated in 1866 in Texas in gatherings of people newly freed from slavery – it took more than two years after Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation for the announcement of freedom to finally reach all corners of the country.

Though there are many ways to celebrate this important day, its purpose is to pause in remembrance of past injustices and to commit to a better future. Above all, it's always been a day for Black Americans to honor their hard-fought freedom, even as the struggle for civil rights and equality has continued.

Oregon's legislature first proclaimed Juneteenth "a day for celebration statewide of the dignity and freedom of all citizens" in 2001. Yesterday our governor issued a new proclamation declaring today "Juneteenth" and announced her plan to present a bill in 2021 to make this day a state holiday. Both the City of Portland and Multnomah County have made today a paid leave day.

There's no doubt Juneteenth carries special meaning this year. Many of us have spent recent weeks reflecting on the legacy of slavery and the insidious persistence of systemic racism in our country. I've taken time to listen and learn, but as an elected official coming from a place of white privilege, I have so much more to do to get to the point where I can truly demonstrate my activation as an ally.

I am proud to co-chair the Democratic Attorneys General Association which stated today: "Recent protests around the killing of Black Americans show that despite all our progress many are still waiting for justice to arrive. Democratic Attorneys General are working to ensure a criminal justice system that serves our communities, builds trust that has been lost, and protects the most vulnerable in our society. To be successful, we will all need to work together."

Each of us – whatever walk of life we find ourselves in or institution we represent – plays a unique part in ensuring that America's promises of freedom come to fruition. It's important to take time to celebrate and reflect on the power of freedom, and all the things that make it worth fighting for.

Happy Juneteenth!


Posted on June 19, 2020.
Oregon is a special place. As Attorney General, I am working hard to keep it that way for future generations of Oregonians.Oregon is a special place. As Attorney General, I am working hard to keep it that way for future generations of Oregonians.

Meet Ellen

As a prosecutor and judge, Ellen Rosenblum has spent her career fighting for and protecting the people of Oregon.

Now, as our Attorney General, she's standing up for the most vulnerable Oregonians, our seniors and diverse communities, small businesses, and all the people of Oregon.

Read more about Ellen