Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff made a surprise visit to schoolchildren at the National Museum of African American History and Culture to talk about the meaning of Juneteenth as the nation observed the new federal holiday on Monday.
Children and their families greeted Harris, the first Black woman to serve as the nation’s second-highest executive, with cheers as she entered the room.
“Happy Juneteenth, young leaders,” a smiling Harris told the children.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were the last to learn President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, freeing them from slavery. The date achieved federal holiday status last June, when President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.
“Today is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom,” Harris told the children ages 4 to 10, “and think about it in terms of the context of history, knowing that Black people in America were not free for 400 years of slavery, but then at the end of slavery — right? … when the Emancipation Proclamation happened, that America had to really think about defining freedom …”
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SOURCE: ABC News, Mason Leib