PHILADELPHIA, June 17, 2020 – Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) today issued the following statement in response to the news that Juneteenth would be celebrated as an official city holiday in 2020:
“For many African-Americans, Juneteenth is truly our Independence Day, as it is the day that the unfinished work of the American Revolution – liberty for enslaved Americans – became a reality. It is in that spirit that I applaud this declaration by the Kenney Administration that our city, the birthplace of America, should officially observe this day in 2020, and hopefully, for many years to come.
But just as the words written in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 did not mean freedom for enslaved Americans until almost a century later, observing this important day does not mean that our country or our city are yet living up to the promises set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Fourteenth Amendment, or any of the countless other pieces of legislation aimed at achieving true equality. The COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest over police brutality have laid bare the continuing disparities in healthcare access, food access, affordable housing, education, and policing for communities of color.
As Philadelphia City Council continues to work to create a FY2021 Budget that is both a moral document and a symbol of our commitment to addressing these disparities, we ask all Philadelphians to reflect on what Juneteenth represents: the idea that we cannot and should not give up on righting the wrongs of the past.
Our city and our country have made grave mistakes over the course of these two hundred plus years, but our promise lies in how we correct them.”
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