UNION COUNTY, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in partnership with the Union County Juneteenth Planning Committee is pleased to announce the inaugural Juneteenth Flag raising ceremony on Wednesday, June 19 at 5:00 p.m. in front of the Union County Court house, located at 2 Broad Street, in Elizabeth.

“Juneteenth marks the date when enslaved Africans in America got word about the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “In Union County, we are proud to raise the Juneteenth Flag to acknowledge this day in history and honor the long struggle of African-Americans for freedom.”

Juneteenth is recognized as a commemoration of the effective end to slavery in the United States. While President Lincoln delivered his famous Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, many slave owners in Southern states failed to inform their slaves of the landmark decision.

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Freeholder Rebecca Williams said: “Juneteenth is a date on which I acknowledge the idea of justice delayed due to the pecuniary interests of slaveholders in the cotton industry in particular. I cannot underscore enough Galveston's importance as a major port city during the slave trade, as well as Texas as a cotton empire built on the bodies of its enslaved. Juneteenth came about not because it took two months for word to get to Texas about the end of the war, but because the cotton industry needed the bodies of the enslaved blacks to ensure that there would be a crop that year. My father was born and raised in Galveston, and I have dozens of family members who still live there, so I take Juneteenth very personally. Although it has taken far longer for African Americans to be given equal protection under the law, this date marks the beginning of that journey.”

Freeholder Sergio Granados added: “I take great pride in recognizing our diverse cultures within the County and am honored to celebrate the strength of families in the spirit of freedom. “

It took until June 19, 1865 – over two years after Lincoln’s address freeing slaves – for Union soldiers to ride into Galveston, Texas and announce the abolition of slavery there.

Hence, Juneteenth is a celebration of the emancipation of all slaves. Every year around June 19, people participate in parades and cultural events to honor the true end of slavery. On June 22, 2019, the Juneteenth Planning Committee will host their 5th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Ball at the Renaissance Hotel located in Elizabeth.

For more information, contact Nathalie Hernandez, Coordinator of the Office of Community Engagement & Diversity at nahernandez@ucnj.org or 908-527-4880.