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We asked KAREN BOYKIN-TOWNS, Vice Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors and Lafayette 148 New York 2021 Unordinary Woman, to share her thoughts on the history & impact of this important holiday:

"Juneteenth, a shortened version of ‘June Nineteenth,’ marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, took control to ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the U.S. end to slavery.

As an African American born and living in this country, it gives me pleasure to see another ‘truth’ of our shared history come to the mainstream and be recognized as American History. Though there are many other occasions for which history has been segregated by color, it is only by protecting our “Better Angels” and pushing back against those that wish to spread hate and misinformation, that we will succeed in continuing to form a “Better Union” one that is truly equal.

So today, I do not celebrate the history of exclusion, I reflect on the progress made by the Black community towards racial justice over the years. And as a mother, I find myself contemplating on how this generation can continue to push the needle forward. This year, I’m hopeful that others will use the day to think through ways they can contribute towards building a more racially equitable future that will better serve the lives of all future Americans. And in this year of 2021, I am also hopeful that we can all learn to live together in peace and with much more respect than we have witnessed over the past few years.”

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