(BCPM) A 2005 Juneteenth Message from U.S. Rep. (Ret.) Chet Edwards

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards meets with constituents at a Juneteenth celebration in Cleburne, Texas, 2005

Today, we celebrate Juneteenth, a day set apart to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved persons in Texas following the end of the Civil War. On June 18, 2005, Representative Chet Edwards visited Cleburne, a small city in Johnson County, to speak at their Juneteenth Festival. His speech, titled “The Story of the Emancipation Proclamation” traced the path of freedom for African Americans from President Lincoln’s famed proclamation to Major General Gordon Granger arriving in Galveston, Texas 2.5 years later. Edwards argued, however, that African Americans’ fight for freedom would be hard fought with unjust obstacles in the way – racial lynchings, segregation, inequality. It was, in reality, a 103-year-march from the Emancipation Proclamation to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Edwards proclaimed.

A page from Edwards’ Juneteenth speech delivered June 18, 2005 in Cleburne.

The Congressman ended his speech with hope, recognizing that the march for freedom continues today. “Let us honor the 1.4 million Americans who have died in combat to defend America’s freedom, let us honor those who gave their lives in the march for civil rights, let us honor the spirit of the Emancipation Proclamation, let us honor the divine gift of freedom, by marching forward together to bring our nation ever closer to the highest ideals of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.”

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