On June 19, 1865, news arrived in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved African Americans were free. The disclosure of this information was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

In commemoration, African Americans have held annual celebrations since the late 1800s. Juneteenth received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

Now, 155 years later, the legacy of slavery still lingers and threatens the way to prosperity for African Americans in our state. Black Texans are almost twice as likely to die from treatable conditions as compared to whites. Approximately 20% of black children live below the poverty line in Texas, which is twice as many as white children. Additionally, black Texans are three times as likely as white Texans to be incarcerated. These statistics tell a story of systems that have not yet fully reckoned with our past and thereby hinder opportunity for African Americans in our state.

In order to truly honor the legacy of those who fought for the Emancipation of enslaved African Americans, we must confront these disparities with intention and determination. Texas 2036 stands at the ready.