United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
June 19, 2022
Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Juneteenth
On June 19, or Juneteenth, the United States commemorates the day in 1865 that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the emancipation of more than 250,000 African Americans who were enslaved in the state. Although the Emancipation Proclamation legally abolished slavery in Confederate states in 1863, African Americans in areas still under Confederate control were not free until this momentous day two years later.
That very same year, in 1865, my great-grandmother Mary Thomas was born as the child of a slave. Even though I am only three generations removed from her, I have had the remarkable honor and privilege of representing to the world what the United States can be if we fully live up to our values and ideals. Throughout our nation’s history, African Americans have made vital contributions to our collective progress and to our guiding aspirations for a freer, fairer world.
Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the freedom and justice that was long overdue, as well as an opportunity to humbly recognize how much further we collectively still have to go. Even though slavery is America’s original sin, the United States is not the only heir of slavery. Other countries share this shameful history with us, and, outrageously, modern slavery persists all over the world to this day.
Together, at the United Nations, we have an opportunity and responsibility to advocate for the vulnerable and end slavery everywhere. Let us celebrate these historic, hard-fought freedoms by doing everything in our power to ensure that everyone, everywhere can enjoy these freedoms as well.