United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
June 19, 2023
Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Juneteenth
Juneteenth is a time to reflect on the trials and tribulations of ancestors and on our history. Mary Thomas, my great grandmother, was born the child of a slave in 1865, and now three generations later, one of her descendants serves as a member of the U.S. President’s Cabinet and the U.S. Representative to the United Nations. My journey is just one of the many experiences of people of African descent in the United States. Today we celebrate our perseverance in overcoming adversity since slavery was abolished.
Being a part of the African diaspora, I am propelled to fight for the freedoms of the most vulnerable in the world. For that reason, we are proud to support the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and we continue to call for all countries to ratify and implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Other countries share similar history with the United States on slavery, where people of African descent continue to struggle with racism even long after the practice of slavery has been abolished. Last month, I traveled to Brazil, home to the world’s second largest African diaspora, to recommit our governments to a Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial Discrimination and Promote Equality – JAPER – to engage marginalized racial and ethnic communities in both countries to advance racial equity, promote human rights and social inclusion, and eliminate all forms of discrimination. Brazil reminded me of my own birthplace in Louisiana: once a center of the slave trade in the past, and now thriving with black culture, art, music, and life.
As we commemorate Juneteenth, let it serve as a reminder that our work is not yet finished. We have yet to obtain full equality. Together, let us root out racism and discrimination in all its forms in every society around the globe, and advance freedom and justice for all.