WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, met with Senate Chaplain Barry Black to have a constructive discussion about Juneteenth, George Floyd’s murder, racial justice, and national healing.
Black shared the history behind Juneteenth and how Americans can honor the holiday as our country strives for healing.
Ernst pointed out that Floyd’s murder has sparked a national conversation and that it underscored for her that she needs to take time to listen and learn.
“As you all know, our country has been facing some challenging times. In particular, I think about the murder of George Floyd and what’s sparked a national conversation about race and injustices in our country,” she said.
“Frankly, it shouldn’t have taken a loss of life for us to have a discussion about these issues. Today, is the start of what I hope will be more conversations to come. A chance for me to listen and understand the challenges folks across this country have faced for too long.” Ernst continued, “I thought today, Juneteenth, might be a great place to start the broader conversation.”
Black explained that Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s. He clarified that while the Emancipation Proclamation was a good start, it did not effectively free all those who enslaved in the south.
“It was not until June 19th (1865) that General Gordon Granger finally got to Texas… to make it very clear that all the former slaves were truly emancipated,” he said. “Juneteenth continues to remind us that we must ever be vigilant about freedom.”
Ernst asked Black how Americans could honor Juneteenth this year.
“Well, I think what you are doing here today, basically saying I want to listen…is a wonderful way for non-African Americans to get involved,” he responded.
Watch their entire conversation below: