President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in the United States. It had an effective date of January 1, 1863, but awareness of the Executive Order was dependent on the advancement of union troops throughout the furthest regions of our growing country.

On June 19, 1865, some two and a half years after Lincoln’s proclamation freeing enslaved blacks, word reached the town of Galveston, Texas. Since then, Juneteenth has been informally recognized as a day to celebrate the liberation of slaves.

Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed a law declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. This is an appropriate and long-overdue recognition of this country’s complicated history on race and gives us all an opportunity to celebrate President Lincoln’s action over 150 years ago.

The important work of the IAFF Elected Human Relations Committee continues to support our affiliates by providing technical assistance programs that promote an inclusive workplace for all IAFF members. Delegates at the IAFF 55th Convention reaffirmed the IAFF’s commitment to a fair and equitable workplace with the passage of Resolution 36 urging each local to propose amendments to their own constitution and by-laws to reflect the prohibitions against discrimination.

In celebration of Juneteenth, please take a moment to reflect on this poignant recitation of our Pledge of Allegiance by Sister Andrea Hall from South Fulton, GA Local 3920 at the Presidential Inauguration in January.