R 215
2020 -- S 2897
Enacted 06/18/2020

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Metts, Quezada, Ruggerio, Goodwin, and Sheehan
Date Introduced: June 17, 2020

     WHEREAS, First observed one hundred and fifty-four years ago, Juneteenth National
Freedom Day is the oldest and only African-American holiday observance in the United States;
     WHEREAS, Also known as Emancipation Day, Emancipation Celebration, Freedom
Day, Jun-Jun, and Juneteenth, Juneteenth National Freedom Day commemorates the strong
survival instinct of African-Americans who were first brought to this country stacked in the
bottom of slave ships in a month-long journey across the Atlantic Ocean known as the Middle
Passage; and
     WHEREAS, Approximately eleven and one-half million African-Americans survived the
voyage to the New World, with the number that died likely greater, and those who did survive
were subjected to whipping, castration, branding, and rape, and were forced to submit to slavery
for more than two hundred years after their arrival in the United States; and
     WHEREAS, Events in the history of the United States that led to the Civil War of 1861
centered around sectional differences between the North and South that were based on the
economic and social divergence caused by the existence of slavery; and
     WHEREAS, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States in 1861,
and as President, Lincoln believed and stated that the paramount object of the Civil War was to
save the Union rather than to save or destroy slavery; and
     WHEREAS, But Lincoln also stated his belief that all men everywhere should be free,
thus adding to the growing anticipation of slaves that their ultimate liberation was at hand; and
     WHEREAS, In 1862, the first clear sign that the end of slavery was imminent came when
laws abolishing slavery in the territories of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico
were passed; and
     WHEREAS, In September of that same year, President Lincoln warned the eleven
rebellious Confederate States that if they did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he
would declare their slaves forever free via the celebrated Emancipated Proclamation; and
     WHEREAS, Enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, however, only occurred in
Confederate States once they were under Union Army control and Congress subsequently passed
the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution on January 31, 1865, abolishing slavery
throughout the United States and its territories; and
     WHEREAS, News of this action reached the states at different times, and it was not until
June 19th of 1865, that the message of freedom reached the slaves in Texas, Oklahoma,
Louisiana, Arkansas, and California; and
     WHEREAS, Spontaneous celebrations erupted throughout the country when African-
Americans learned of their freedom; and
     WHEREAS, Juneteenth National Freedom Day celebrates the abolishment of slavery
with excitement and great joy and is a reminder to all Americans of the status and importance that
Americans of African descent hold as American citizens; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
hereby urges the citizens of the State of Rhode Island to recognize the historical significance of
Juneteenth Independence Day and to observe Juneteenth National Freedom Day on June 19th; and
be it further
     RESOLVED, That this Senate supports the annual celebration of Juneteenth National
Freedom Day in order to provide an opportunity for the people of the state to learn more about
our country’s past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped our nation; and be it
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the Governor of the State of Rhode Island.