juneteenth_thumb307_September 24, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Thank you again for your 2011, 2010 & 2009 statements concerning Juneteenth in America. We are very proud of your accomplishments as the first African American president to occupy the White House in U.S. history.

Since becoming President, we have been rebuffed in our efforts to contact you. You have yet to personally respond to any of our invitations to participate in the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance or host any Juneteenth activities at the White House.

Juneteenth is now recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 39 states and the District of Columbia. It has been acknowledged by the passage of seven U.S. Congressional Resolutions. We renew our invitation for you to participate in the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance. We encourage you to personally acknowledge the significance of America's second Independence Day by hosting a celebration of freedom at the White House in June.

We urge you to acknowledge the accomplishments of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of enslavement at the 13th Annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance. As was the case with the U.S. Capitol, the White House was built by enslaved Americans of African descent. Our ancestors have made many significant contributions to the building of the infrastructure of America during enslavement that have yet to be acknowledged.

The leadership of our "Modern Juneteenth Movement" worked closely with former Congressman J. C. Watts (R-OK) in 1996 & 1997 to urge the U.S. Congress to acknowledge the contributions of our ancestors in building two of the most important structures in the history of our democracy. Their building of the U.S. Capitol was finally recognized in 2009 by the U.S. Congress during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. However, the leaders of our grass root movement, who initiated the recognition of our ancestors, were not even invited to attend the ceremony.

We ask that you, and members of your administration, be respectful of our accomplishments and support Juneteenth initiatives in 2012. Since our historic movement began in 1994, we have worked to gain greater recognition for Juneteenth and to honor the Americans of African descent who contributed so much to the building of this country. Our efforts have been ignored and unappreciated by many national leaders.

We ask that a liaison be appointed to discuss the planning and establishment of a national park at the site of the landing of the First Africans in America, at Old Point Comfort, Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia.

During our 2011 WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance, I was honored to be the first African American leader to address the Department of Interior (DOI) on the occasion of Juneteenth in U.S. history. Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, was not even courteous enough to attend the function or even greet me as the keynote speaker for the program. Secretary Salazar has yet to respond to my recent letter concerning the establishment of a national park and monument at the site of the landing of the First Africans in America.

We ask for support for the celebration of Juneteenth on military bases. Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, as well as current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, have yet to respond to letters concerning the celebration of Juneteenth on military bases since you became President of the United States. Our annual programs to honor the African American Army engineers who built the historic Alcan Highway, completing the building of the Sikinni Chief River Bridge on the "28th of October", 1942, ultimately ending segregation in the U.S. military in, continues to be ignored by the leadership of the Department of Defense (DOD).

We request that you to issue a Presidential Proclamation to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance in America, similar to Flag Day or Patriot Day.

As a state senator and U.S. Senator from Illinois, we thank you for supporting legislation for the official recognition of Juneteenth by the Governor and state legislature of Illinois in 2003. We also appreciated your sponsorship of legislation to recognize Juneteenth in the U.S. Senate in 2006. It was a great honor to personally receive special recognition from you as the only African American member of the U.S. Senate, Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), both of you from my home state of Illinois, and other members of congress, for advocating for the official recognition of Juneteenth at the U.S. Capitol in 2008.

Juneteenth, or the "19th of June", recognizes June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom in the last state to practice enslavement in the United States, following the end of the Civil War. This occurred more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of by General Granger, our ancestors, released from the tyranny of enslavement, celebrated jubilantly, establishing America's second Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African American holiday observance.

We also continue to urge the U.S. Senate, followed by the U.S. House of Representatives, to pass legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day  a National Day of Observance, to be completed by your signature as President of the United States.

We continue to encourage members of the U.S. Senate to support the passage of another Senate Apology For Slavery, with concurring legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It was wonderful to learn about the U.S. House of Representatives Apology For Slavery and Jim Crow sponsored by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) in 2008 and similar legislation that was passed in the U.S. Senate sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in 2009. We hope to have the legislation passed during the week of Juneteenth 2012 with both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate concurring, to be completed by your signature as President of the United States.

We prayerfully invite you to address those in attendance at our National Juneteenth Black Holocaust "Maafa" Memorial Service, which is part of the annual National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement, held on the "3rd Friday in June". The service will take place on June 15, 2012. The worship service is scheduled to begin at 4:30pm, at Lincoln Park United Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. Diane Dixon-Proctor, Pastor, 1301 North Carolina Avenue, N.E., in Washington, DC.

Our first National Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement was the result of the second historic introduction of Congressional Apology For Slavery legislation by former Congressman Tony Hall (D-OH) on Juneteenth, the "19th of June", 2000. As the leader of the "Modern Juneteenth Movement" in America, I was honored to work closely with Congressman Hall on the apology as an important step toward racial healing and reconciliation in America. Since that time, several states have passed apology for slavery legislation including Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Florida.

We now observe the annual World Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement on the "20th of August", in Hampton and Richmond, VA. This commemorates the date the first slave ship, the White Lion, landed in Virginia at Old Point Comfort, today's Fort Monroe, from the shores of West Africa. This occurred on the "latter end of August, 1619", with the arrival of twenty Angolans, America's first Middle Passage.

America needs healing from the scars of enslavement. The annual observance of Juneteenth in America affords the country a tremendous opportunity to constructively reflect on our legacy of enslavement and move forward as a unified nation. As the leader of our country, your public participation in Juneteenth will be instrumental in bringing all Americans together in a spirit of unity and reconciliation.  

 

We also request your support for "June is Juneteenth African American Jazz Legacy Month" through the National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP) 

and the African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC).

We hope to schedule a future performance of the AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band during the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It would be a greater honor for these talented college music students to receive an invitation to perform for you at the White House.  

 

We also invite you to celebrate Juneteenth with us in my hometown of Chicago, IL, at the 3rd Annual Chicago Juneteenth Jazz and Heritage Festival. The festival is hosted by our National Juneteenth Observance Foundation board member and Director of the Coalition of Improved Education in South Shore (CIESS) Juneteenth Celebration, your friend and neighbor, Lestine Byars. 


Thank you for your continued participation and support for our annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance and efforts to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance in America.

  

Rev. Ronald V Myers, Sr., M.D.

Founder & Chairman

National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign

National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)

National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)

National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP)

 

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