On June 19, 1865, our nation took an important first step out of the shadows of oppression and towards the light of equality. We’re especially cognizant of this day in South Carolina given the tragic events that unfolded Wednesday evening. Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston has an incredibly rich history and played an enormous role in providing comfort and safety for slaves. As Senator Pinckney told a group of visitors two years ago, “It’s a very special place because this site, this area, has been tied to the history and life of African Americans since about the early 1800’s.”
Nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation, this order freed the estimated 250,000 remaining slaves in Texas. In doing so, it also extended emancipation to slaves throughout the Confederate South.
Today, we commemorate it as Juneteenth.
On the 150th Anniversary of what is often referred to as our nation’s ‘second Independence Day,’ we celebrate the contributions of the many African-Americans who have shaped our nation and its history beyond measure.
Today, South Carolinians in cities all across our state will honor this anniversary together and pray for those who lost their lives at Emanuel AME Church.
As we do, let us redouble our efforts to secure peace and equality for all.