County Settling Into Juneteenth As Latest National Holiday Celebration

In 2023, four of San Bernardino County’s 24 municipalities have African-American mayors and three of its cities have African-American city managers.
This year, two years after Juneteenth, which derives its name from the combination of June and nineteenth, was recognized as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden in 2021, it was at last widely celebrated, with many businesses coming around to grant their employees a day off work to celebrate it.
Juneteenth had its origin in 1865 in Galveston, Texas, when Major General Gordon Granger ordered that June 19th of that year be celebrated as the approximate two-and-one-half year anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, as an emphatic proclaiming of the freedom of the formerly enslaved people of Texas. Juneteenth over time was observed annually in various parts of the United States, often broadly as a celebration of African-American culture.
Given the manner in which four-twentyfourths or one sixth of the heads of municipal government in San Bernardino County are currently African-American and three-twentyfourths of the administrative heads of municipal government in San Bernardino County are African-American – ratios both more favorable than the roughly one-eleventh of the overall American population that is composed of African-Americans – it has been observed that it is the rest of the country that is catching up with San Bernardino County rather than the other way around.
In observance of Juneteenth, all county offices were closed on Monday and there were events to commemorate the day and spirit at many locations around the county.
In Twentynine Palms, two days early, on Saturday June 17, some 400 people celebrated Juneteenth at a gala event at Knott Sky Park hosted by Mayor McArthur Wright.
“Grace and peace be unto you, beloved community of Twentynine Palms,” began Wright. “Today, as we gather on this sacred Juneteenth, I stand before you not only as your mayor but as a member of the Black community, proud of our rich heritage and the resilience that flows through our veins. Today, we embark on a journey of reflection, remembrance, and inspiration — a journey that embraces the true meaning of Juneteenth.
As we reflect on our history, we are reminded of the struggles and the sacrifices endured by our ancestors. From the horrors of slavery to the fight for civil rights, their determination and unwavering spirit paved the way for the freedom we cherish today. We remember their names, their stories and their indomitable faith, knowing that their legacy lives on within us.”
Wright continued, “Juneteenth holds a special place in our hearts. On that fateful day in 1865, news of emancipation reached the shores of Galveston, Texas, proclaiming freedom for the last enslaved African Americans. It was a proclamation that echoed across the land, igniting a flame of hope and joy. Today, we remember the joy of liberation and celebrate the progress made since that historic moment.
“As your mayor, I am dedicated to fostering an inclusive community where every resident, regardless of their background, feels welcomed, respected and valued,” Wright said. “We will continue to work towards creating opportunities for economic empowerment, educational equity and social justice. Together, we can build a community that embraces the principles of equality and celebrates the diversity that enriches our city. As we navigate this journey, let us draw strength and inspiration from the examples set by our ancestors. They fought with unwavering courage, resilience and faith. They believed in a future where equality and justice would prevail. Their hope is our torch, guiding us toward a brighter tomorrow.”
Wright declared, “Beloved community, on this Juneteenth, let us unite our hearts and voices in celebration of our freedom. Let us remember the struggles of the past, honor the heroes who paved the way, and commit ourselves to building a future where justice and equality are not just aspirations but living realities. May we never forget the journey that brought us here, nor the journey that lies ahead. With God as our guide and the spirit of unity as our strength, we will press forward, knowing that the struggle for freedom and justice is ongoing. Let us continue to stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, as we build a community that honors the past, embraces the present and creates a better future for generations to come.”
In closing, Wright said, “May the grace of God be with us and may the spirit of Juneteenth forever inspire us to strive for a world where all are truly free. Amen.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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