The California Legislative Black Caucus has called to light up the Capitol Dome in red, black and green — pan-African colors that represent the African diaspora to enslavement in the New World. The Caucus has received support from Governor Gavin Newsom who issued a proclamation Friday commemorating June 20 as Juneteenth in California.
“As we celebrate Juneteenth, we must redouble our efforts to achieve justice and take on systemic racism and its devastating consequences for Black Americans,” said Newsom. “Recent demonstrations, fueling important reforms throughout the United States, are the latest contributions to building a more perfect union — where liberty and justice are indeed ‘for all.’ We remember those who have lived and died in this pursuit, and their memory inspires us to make that promise real.”
The governor has said he is “certainly open-minded” to the idea of making Juneteenth an official, paid holiday in the state. He has reportedly discussed it with the Legislative Black Caucus and state employee groups.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger led troops into Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the Civil War and the insidious institution of slavery. Thousands of enslaved people in Texas — among the last to learn of their liberation — tasted hard-won freedom for the first time. The joyous commemorations that began in Texas spread around the nation, with cities and communities in California joining in celebration of this milestone in the American journey to freedom for all. Since 2003, the State of California has celebrated Juneteenth as a day to honor and reflect on the significant contributions of Black Americans.
“Juneteenth is Freedom Day and a cause for celebration,” said Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. “What is encouraging is the renewed interest in Juneteenth by young people. I think it is this moment where they recognize their power to make change. The message of Juneteenth is especially salient in the context of the current protests over ongoing and persistent brutality and inequity in the lives of Black Americans. American ideals promise equality, but have yet to fulfill that promise. By lighting the State Capitol in red, black and green, the California Legislative Black Caucus demonstrates its commitment to making that promise a reality in California.”
“Tonight our state’s Capitol—the people’s House—-will be graced with the Juneteenth colors in recognition of one of the most significant moments in the history of the United States— the day enslaved people learned of their freedom,” said California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins. “Juneteenth to me marks a day of hope and the dawn of America.”
“Juneteenth was made possible by abolitionists who stood up against racism and oppression,” said California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. “Over one hundred years later, Juneteenth 2020 takes place at a time when activists are still fighting for equality. The current uprisings around the country give me hope that we will celebrate Juneteenth 2021 having used our actions to further racial equality and this holiday’s promise of freedom for all. Black Lives Matter.”