Community organizations across the nation are celebrating Juneteenth (June 19), the day in 1865—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed—when enslaved people in Texas finally received word about the official end of the Civil War. Several organizations issued statements detailing the importance of recognizing Juneteenth:

From Color of Change’s emailed statement:

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come while assessing how far we still have to go. June 19, 1865, changed the life trajectories of enslaved Black people across the country. On that day, news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free finally reached Galveston, Texas. This opened up a world of opportunities denied to generations of Black people—the people who were forced to build this country, fought for centuries to end legalized slavery and paved the way for us with their blood, sweat and tears. We owe it to them to keep up the fight until we are all fully free.

From National Organization for Women’s statement:

This important date still receives little attention—and often outright hostility—from those outside the Black community. School textbooks identify the Emancipation Proclamation as ending slavery, ignoring that it persisted for years in some regions. The relative obscurity of Juneteenth in our national dialogue serves as a reminder that White supremacy is still entrenched in how Americans understand our history—and its impact on the present.

From Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s emailed a statement:

We join the Black community in recognizing its beauty, freedom and perseverance. We join in the prayers for the ancestors, pioneers, innovators, and contemporaries that have impacted global culture facing unprecedented odds, and pray for the establishment of absolute justice and equality.

From Vera Institute of Justice’s emailed statement:

One hundred and fifty-four years after emancipation, we as a nation have not yet fully grappled with the ways in which our justice system is impacted by our country’s deep and divisive history of racial oppression and injustice … and perpetuates the unequal treatment of Black people. African Americans make up just 13 percent of the country’s population, but they represent more than 35 percent of those in American prisons.

From Ms. Foundation for Women’s statement:

On this day in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Africans and Black Americans in the Deep South learned of their liberation. Over 150 years later, the legacy of this country’s supremacist and violent past lives on through the systemic racism, structural inequities and misogynoir that still threaten Black livelihoods…. Juneteenth is a time to reflect on the past and commit to creating a better future. As we recognize the end of slavery over 150 years ago, let us continue to strive for an America where all are truly free. The Ms. Foundation for Women and our grantee-partners will continue to fight against racism, xenophobia and hate until we are all seen as equal.