Oldest Juneteenth Organization Acknowledges White House for Recognizing Representative Al Edwards’ Contributions to Creation of Federal Holiday

2023 Juneteenth proclamation included homage to Al Edwards, considered “The Architect & Father of Juneteenth”

Beachwood, OH, United States, 8th May 2024—Juneteenth USA, the oldest Juneteenth organization in the U.S., today issued an acknowledgement of the White House’s reference to Texas State Representative Al Edwards, known affectionately as the “Father of Juneteenth,” for his tireless state by state legislative advocacy and unwavering commitment for almost four decades—which paved the way for Juneteenth to transition from a Texas state holiday to a revered national holiday. The reference was in the administration’s 2023 Juneteenth proclamation. Representative Edwards’ children founded Juneteenth USA.

Al Edwards, born March 19, 1937, embarked on a remarkable journey that would forever etch his name in the annals of history. Elected to the Texas State Legislature in 1979, Edwards authored and championed the bill that established Juneteenth as a state holiday in Texas. His vision, however, extended far beyond the borders of the Lone Star State. Understanding the profound significance of June 19, 1865—the day enslaved individuals in Texas learned of their freedom, Edwards dedicated his life to ensuring this momentous day received the national recognition it deserved.

Through his leadership roles (National Vice – Chair and National Chair) within the Democratic Party’s Black Caucus and various legislative organizations, Edwards encouraged over 35 state legislative bodies, specifically the state legislative Black Caucus across America to adopt Juneteenth observances or state holidays.  The outcome of this effort created what he saw as a “state led” national holiday with 45 states observing the holiday out of the 50 states in the Union by 2016, thus laying the groundwork for US Congress’ unanimous consent action securing federal recognition. His efforts culminated in the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act of 2021, a testament to his decades-long campaign. 

While Edwards passed away in April 2020, his legacy as a relentless advocate for justice and equality endures. The U.S. President’s recognition of Edwards in the 2023 Juneteenth proclamation underscores the profound impact of his work. It serves as a reminder of everyone’s collective responsibility to honor the history of enslaved people and celebrate the freedom and rights Americans hold dear.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to President Biden for commemorating Al Edwards in the 2023 national proclamation of Juneteenth,” said Jason Edwards, son of Al Edwards and President of Juneteenth USA. “His acknowledgment not only honors Edwards’ immense contributions but also reflects our nation’s commitment to recognizing the importance of Juneteenth.”

Edwards added, “As we celebrate this day, let us remember Al Edwards and the enduring legacy of his dedication to justice, freedom, and equality for all. We also share our heartfelt appreciation to Opal Lee, and many others like Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who have championed this cause and helped to integrate the history of Juneteenth into the broader conversation of American history.”

For more information about the life and legacy of State Representative Al Edwards and the significance of Juneteenth, please visit https://www.juneteenthusa.org/ for our media kit. 

 

Media Contact

Organization: Juneteenth USA

Contact Person: Ms. Yvonne Harris

Website: https://www.juneteenthusa.org/

Email: info@juneteenthusa.org

Contact Number: +13103837041

City: Beachwood

State: OH

Country: United States

Release Id: 08052411820

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