More than 400 years ago, twenty enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to the shores of what would become the United States. Millions more were stolen and sold in the centuries that followed, part of a system of slavery that is America’s original sin.
Great nations don’t hide from their history. They acknowledge their past, both the triumphs and the tragedies. Today is a day to reflect on the terrible toll of slavery, and on our nation’s profound ability to heal and emerge stronger. Despite the horrors they faced, these men and women and their descendants have made countless contributions to the building of this nation and the continuous effort to realize the American ideal. I was honored last year to declare Juneteenth a national holiday, another moment to reflect and rededicate ourselves to becoming a more perfect union. And it’s why my Administration will continue the hard, ongoing work to bring true equity and racial justice to our country.
I’m grateful for the efforts of Congress—in particular, Representative Al Green and Senator Elizabeth Warren—to recognize the significance of this day.