Date marks the end of slavery in the US
Congressman Brian Higgins joined Western New York and Washington, D.C., Wednesday in observing Juneteenth and commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.
While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, news of the action did not reach many southern states for quite some time. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were free. Today, many states, including New York, celebrate Juneteenth on or around this date to commemorate the emancipation.
Higgins cosponsored H.RES. 268, introduced by Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, "Observing and Expressing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day." The resolution says, in part, "the House of Representatives ... supports the continued celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day to provide an opportunity for the people of the United States to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped the nation. ... And it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States; and history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.
In a speech delivered on the Floor of the House of Representatives, Higgins also recognized Buffalo's rich history in the anti-slavery movement. He noted the Michigan Street Baptist Church hosted abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. He also referenced Buffalonian Mary Talbert's role as founder the Niagara Movement, which was a forerunner of the NAACP.
He concluded, "Mr. Speaker, I am proud to honor Juneteenth to honor the strength of our nation's African American heritage and celebrate the promise of an even stronger future."