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Commemorative Messages

Commemorative Messages From the Committee to Eliminate Bias and Promote Equal Justice

Commemorative Messages

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Fri, Sep 15, 2023 – Sun, Oct 15, 2023

Paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. 

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Roberto Clemente with a Baseball
Roberto Clemente 

Roberto Clemente was a Puerto Rican professional baseball player who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball.  He was born Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker, on August 18, 1934, in Barrio San Anton in Carolina, Puerto Rico to Luisa Walker and Melchor Clemente.  He was the youngest of seven siblings and worked alongside his brothers and fathers in the sugar cane fields.

He was always an athlete, showing interest in baseball early in life and in high school he participated in the high jump and javelin throw and was good enough to be considered to represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics.

He played with the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League from 1952-1954, when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  A few months later, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the Major Leagues.  Clemente played in the Major Baseball League from 1955-1972.  He took a break from baseball and joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1958.  He served his six-month active-duty commitment at Parris Island, South Carolina, Camp LeJeaune in North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.   He remained a private first class in the Marine Corps until 1964.

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Roberto Clemente Portrait in 1958

Marine Corps 1958

In his early seasons playing in the United States, he was affected by both the climate and language differences, as he only spoke Spanish.  He was helped by his bilingual teammates such as infielder Chico Fernandez and pitchers Tommy Lasorda and Joe Black.  In the off-season, he often played professionally in Puerto Rico.  

Clemente was an All-Star for every season he played in the 1960’s (except 1968) and was a Gold Glove winner for each of his final 12 seasons.  He won the National League batting title four times and the league’s MVP award in 1966.

To make him seem more American, sportswriters started calling him “Bob” or “Bobby.”  His baseball cards even listed him as “Bob Clemente,” a practice that persisted until 1969.  Clemente disliked the practice, which he felt was disrespectful to his heritage and he was known to correct reporters who called him “Bob” during interviews.

Clemente spent much of his off time doing charity work.  When there was a massive earthquake in Nicaragua in 1972, he immediately arranged to have aid packages delivered on relief-flights.  Having learned that the first three shipments had been taken by corrupt government officials, he decided to ride on the fourth flight, to prevent the theft of the aid packages.  The flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean and Clemente was killed.  His tragic death left behind his wife, Vera, three young sons, Roberto Jr., Luis Roberto, and Roberto Enrique — and a humanitarian reputation that lives on. Many organizations honor Clemente's spirit of caring.

Clemente has received many honors and was the first Latin-American player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Major League Baseball renamed its annual Commissioner’s Award in his honor and is now known as the Roberto Clement Award and is given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”  Major League Baseball proclaimed September 15th as Roberto Clemente Day, in 2022, to coincide with the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” — Roberto Clemente

Hispanic Heritage Month (.gov)

https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov


Native American Day

September 2023

The observance of Native American Day on the fourth Friday of September, focuses on a celebration of the history, heritage, and culture of tribes across the United States. Each diverse nation has its own beliefs, rituals, and traditions. This day is about celebrating the enriching heritage, contributions, and knowledge of Native Americans.  Native American Day also recognizes the atrocities committed against Native people by Americans of European descent, specifically as President Biden’s proclamation describes in a quote, "centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation tribes across the United States.” The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society.  

California Native people transformed the state and our collective culture in ways that many could only dream of. Tribal nations have worked to restore ancestral names and cultural practices to many of the places where Native people have lived, survived and thrived in since time immemorial. On this Native American Day, we recognize not only learning about the rich histories, traditions and contributions of the diverse tribal communities throughout the state, but also the importance of supporting visibility and justice for California Native peoples.


Women's Equality/Passage of 19th Amendment 

August 2023

Passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to our Constitution granted women the right to vote. It took decades of agitation and protest to get this amendment passed. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of women suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what was then considered a radical change of the constitution. Although many of us are familiar with the name of Susan B. Anthony and have been taught the significant role she played in the woman’s suffrage movement, did you know many women of color were instrumental in bringing significant change as well? This month’s commemorative email seeks to introduce you to some women who are not as famous as Susan B. Anthony, but have nonetheless helped make the 19th Amendment a reality.

The campaign for women suffrage was long and difficult; yet even then, ratification did not ensure all women meaningfully received the right to vote. It took several more decades of struggle to include minority women in the promise of voting rights.

The struggle for suffrage (the right to vote) which began for black women in the early 1800s, continued until activists such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash won the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 200 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

In 1920, Native Americans weren’t allowed to be United States Citizens, so the federal amendment did not give them the right to vote. Native American activist Zitka’la-Sa’ continued to organize and advocate with white mainstream suffragists. With the passage of the Snyder Act of 1924, American-born Native Women gained citizenship. But until as late as 1962, individual states still prevented them from voting on contrived grounds, such as literacy tests, poll taxes and claims that residence on a reservation mean one wasn’t a resident of the state.

Native-born Asian Americans already had citizenship in 1920, but first generation Asian Americans did not. Asian American immigrant women were excluded from voting until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. This Act allowed them to gain citizenship more than three decades after the 19th Amendment. Asian American suffragists such as Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee worked alongside white and Native-born women in the years leading up to 1920.

Latinx women contributed to the success of the suffrage movement at both the state and federal levels, particularly with their efforts to reach out to Spanish-speaking women. Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, who is considered the first Mexican-American novelist, and a precursor to the Chicano/a movement, captured the challenges faced by Mexican-American women during the early years of citizenship starting in 1849. Her first novel, Who Would Have Thought It, (1872) criticizes U.S. racism and imperialism and women’s marginality. Through this book she was able to awaken the heart of her readers and introduce concepts of equality between the sexes.

This month, let us take a moment to educate ourselves on the history of these women and take a moment to express gratitude to them for their meaningful contributions. Their stories remind us of the diversity of suffrage activism in the United States.

https://www.womenshistory.org/exhibits/representation-hyphen-latinas-fight-womens-suffrage (external site )

https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/suffrage-in-spanish-hispanic-women-and-the-fight-for-the-19th-amendment-in-new-mexico.htm (external site )

https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/how-native-american-women-inspired-the-women-s-rights-movement.htm (external site )

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/vote-not-all-women-gained-right-to-vote-in-1920/ (external site )


Juneteenth National Independence Day

Monday, June 19th, 2023

This past Monday the courts were closed due to the acknowledgment of Juneteenth, a recently designated federal holiday and the seminal event in American history that signified the end of slavery within the United States. Officially titled "Juneteenth National Independence Day," the holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Americans upon the anniversary of General Order Number 3, issued by Major General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865—some two-plus years after President Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1962 (declaring those enslaved in Confederate states to be free). It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Texas, though, that those therein learned that slavery had been abolished. The name "Juneteenth" derives from the combination of "June" and "nineteenth," and has been celebrated throughout our communities through prayer, festivals, and community events since 1866; these events typically occur on the third Saturday in June. While originating in Galveston, the commemoration and festivities spread quickly throughout the South, and is now observed annually throughout the United States, with some referring to it as "America's second Independence Day." On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, joining every other state and the District of Columbia in formally recognizing the holiday. 

General Granger’s order read, in part, as follows:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."

Please click the link to learn more information. https://www.goldenwestcollege.edu/rising/juneteenth/index.html


Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 2023

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) recognizes the history, culture, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans here in the United States. AAPI signifies cultures from all regions within the Asian continent, as well as the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. AAPI Heritage Month emanates from the effort to recognize AAPI contributions in America starting in the 70's when Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Mineta introduced a resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The significance of early-May was twofold: on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States and on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.

In 1992, May was officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and in 2009 the annual recognition was renamed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. At the time, President Barack Obama reiterated the reasons for the recognition: “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured and overcome hardship and heartache. In the earliest years, tens of thousands of Gold Rush pioneers, coal miners, transcontinental railroad builders, as well as farm and orchard laborers, were subject to unjust working conditions, prejudice, and discrimination—yet they excelled. Even in the darkness of the Exclusion Act and Japanese internment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have persevered, providing for their families and creating opportunities for their children. ... I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”

Recently, AAPI’s have constantly faced xenophobia, racism, bias, and violence especially seen through the Covid-19 pandemic. It is ever more important to use this month to pay tribute to the diverse contributions this community has made in American History as well as advocate for the Anti-Asian hate movement and create awareness.

Former Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye for addressing racism and bias: “We state clearly and without equivocation that we condemn racism in all its forms: conscious, unconscious, institutional, structural, historic, and continuing. We say this as persons who believe all members of humanity deserve equal respect and dignity; as citizens committed to building a more perfect Union; and as leaders of an institution whose fundamental mission is to ensure equal justice under the law for every single person.” 

Some AAPI Films and Books to  celebrate include:

•             EVERYTHING EVERYWERE ALL AT ONCE (MOVIE)

•             MINARI (MOVIE)

•             RRR (MOVIE)

•             BEEF (TV SHOW)

•             NEVER HAVE I EVER (TV SHOW)

•             OUT OF STATE (DOCUMENTARY)

•             THE JOY LUCK CLUB (BOOK)

In support of this encouragement to learn more about AAPI heritage and culture, please check out the following links: "Eight Ways to Celebrate 31 Days" and "22 Ideas to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month."

https://www.uwci.org/blog/asian-pacific-american-heritage-month-8-ways-to-celebrate-31-days

 https://www.goodgoodgood.co/articles/how-to-celebrate-aapi-heritage-month


Mental Health Awareness Month

May 2023

Mental Health Awareness Month was first celebrated in 1949. It was commemorated by the Mental Health America organization, which was then known as the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and then later as the National Mental Health Association before it got its current name. The association was founded by Clifford Whittingham Beers. Beers, who was born in 1876 in Connecticut, was one of five children in his family who all suffered from mental illness and psychological distress. All of them also went on to spend time at mental institutions and it was from his hospital admittance that he discovered that the mental health field had a notorious reputation for malpractice, maltreatment, and immense bias.

Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis that devastates adults and young people alike, as well as those from every background. During the COVID-19 Pandemic unprecedented times some of the most common mental health diagnosis are as follows:

  • Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias;
  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders;
  • Eating disorders;
  • Personality disorders;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder; and
  • Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.

Locally our own Riverside County Department of Mental Health has tremendous resources for family and individuals to obtain mental health services. In addition to providing a clinician to assist with getting a treatment plan started, they have a 24/7 mental health hotline individuals can call in a crisis.

Why is celebrating Mental Health worth celebrating?

  1. It’s a celebration of mental health

The only way to enjoy life to the fullest and experience all its wonders is if we take care of ourselves, mentally and physically. Don’t shy away from talking about what’s plaguing you as it’s really the only way you can help with solving, resolving, and/or fixing the problem.

  1. It’s a celebration of changing attitudes

We have come a long way from the times when those suffering from mental illness were treated as outcasts, not only by loved ones but also by medical professionals. Things have changed for the better, both within the mental health field and in the way people view mental illnesses.

  1. It’s a celebration of humans

We humans are a set of meticulously-put-together details. Our minds (and bodies) work in harmony to bring us amazing feats in technology, science, humanities, literature, etc. Our mental power, therefore, needs to be taken care of for a better tomorrow for the coming generations.


Women's History Month/International Women's Day

March 2023

In March, coinciding with Women’s History Month, is International Women’s Day.  On March 8,  the world celebrates the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women. In the United States, Susan B. Anthony was a political activist and an advocate of women’s rights. After the Civil War, she fought for the 14th Amendment that was meant to grant all naturalized and native-born Americans citizenship in the hope that it would include suffrage rights. Although the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, it still didn’t secure their vote. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to continue the fight for women’s rights.

In the early 1900s, women were experiencing pay inequality, a lack of voting rights, and they were being overworked. In response to all of this, 15,000 women marched through New York City in 1908 to demand their rights. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. This was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

An International Women’s Conference was organized in August 1910 by Clara Zetkin, a German suffragist and leader in the Women’s Office. Zetkin proposed a special Women’s Day to be organized annually and International Women’s Day was honored the following year in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, with more than one million attending the rallies. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and women were granted the right to vote in the U.S.

The liberation movement took place in the 1960s and the effort led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, allowing all women the right to vote. When the internet became more commonplace, feminism and the fight against gender inequality experienced a resurgence. Now we celebrate International Women’s Day each year as we push continuously with the hope of creating a completely equal society quality around the world. We all know the world couldn’t run without women.

Please join us in observing and celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.


Black History Month

February 2023

February is Black History Month. Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.

Black History Week was created in February 1926 by Carter Woodson. February was chosen for the initial week-long observance because it coincides with the birthdays’ of former President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and reformer Frederick Douglass (February 14). Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.

In 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However it wasn’t until Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law in 1986 that the country began to observe it formally.

While Black History Month is synonymous with prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, George Washington Carver, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, there are countless other African Americans here locally who have made a profound impact on history, including our own Justice Richard T. Fields, who was the first African-American judicial officer in Riverside County, and Judge Irma Asberry, who was the first African-American woman to be judge in Riverside County. Other influential African-Americans here locally include:

  • Barnett and Eleanor Jean Grier: Physicist Dr. Barnett Grier moved with his family to Riverside in 1951 to work at the National Bureau of Standards which established the Corona Naval Ordinance Laboratories. In 1956, he became the second life member of the NAACP and involved in fair housing and education desegregation issues. His wife was one of the first African-American elementary teachers to teach at a predominantly white school. He also pioneered equal employment opportunities. The Griers were honored for their civil rights work by the naming of the Grier Pavilion at Riverside City Hall in their honor in 2008.
  • Robert Bland: Bland led a parents’ movement to integrate Riverside schools after an arson burned Lowell School in 1965. Only three weeks after the Watts riots, the arson threatened the peace of the community but the group led by Bland was able to effectively negotiate with the school district.
  • Lulamae Clemons: Lulamae Clemons earned her nursing degree in Missouri and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science (Lincoln University), a Master of Arts in Public Health Administration (Columbia), Doctorate of Education (University of Southern California), and a postgraduate certificate as a Pupil Personnel Services Administrator (Harvard). She was Director of Intergroup Relations for the Riverside County Office of Education and went on to head the UCR-based Title IV School Desegregation Project in the 1960s, where she supervised compliance with equal education requirements for four western states. Locally, she started the Riverside Head Start branch. She received a Presidential Citation for Distinguished Service to Youth in 2003.
  • Jack Clarke, Sr.: One of the first African Americans hired as a full-time professional in the California Department of the Youth Authority in 1946, Jack Clarke led the way for the hiring of African Americans at the state agency. When he retired in 1978 he was the Chief of Parole and Institutions for Southern California. He was the first African American elected to the Riverside County Office of Education in 1981, where he served as president. In 1986, he was elected the first African American member of the Riverside City Council.
  • Rose Mayes: As a fair housing leader, Rose Mayes developed the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County into a national model for combating housing discrimination recognized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and National Fair Housing Alliance. She is co-founder of the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.

Please join us in observing Black History Month.


Japanese American Confinement - Day of Remembrance

Sunday, February 19, 2023

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, "Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas." Although the Order did not name any ethnic group, General John L. DeWitt implemented confinement of Japanese and Japanese Americans across the country. Within six months, about 122,000 people lived in so-called "internment camps."

On February 18, 2022, a Presidential Proclamation was issued reaffirming the Federal Government's formal apology to Japanese-Americans whose lives were affected by this chapter in history and proclaiming February 19, 2022, as a Day of Remembrance of Japanese-American Incarceration during World War II. We learn these facts from websites and books. But to steal a political aphorism, all history is local. We'd like to highlight a couple of local stories that show triumph over tragedy.

Judge Ben Kayashima retired from our sister court, San Bernardino County. Although he was held at the Japanese internment camp in Parker, Arizona, he later served with distinction in the United States Army, earning the Combat Infantryman's badge in Korea. He graduated from UCLA, then Hastings College of the Law. He joined the bench in 1980 and served with distinction until 2013.

Justice Stephen K. Tamura served this community on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two. While imprisoned in Poston, Arizona, Justice Tamura requested that the War Relocation Authority allow him to study at Harvard Law School. Instead of immediately practicing law, Justice Tamura enlisted in the Army and served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most highly decorated military units. Justice Tamura was Orange County's first Asian-American attorney, its first Asian-American judge, and the first Asian-American state appellate court justice in the country.

Please join us in observing our Day of Remembrance for the confined Japanese and celebrating our local heroes' achievements despite their confinement.


 

Filipino American History Month

Thursday, October 18, 2022

Filipino American History Month (FAHM) is celebrated in the United States during the month of October. October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587. In California, FAHM was first recognized statewide in 2006 and on September 9, 2009, the California State Assembly voted to “designate the month of October 2009, and every October thereafter, as Filipino American History Month”.

Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American group in the nation and the third-largest minority ethnic group in California, after Latinx and African Americans.

The Philippines, a long-standing Spanish Colony, was ceded by Spain to the U.S after the Spanish-American War in 1898. After becoming a U.S. Colony, a mass migration began in the years from 1900-1934.

The demand for labor in California farmlands attracted thousands of Filipino immigrants. The immigrants came to California to pursue a better future, with jobs and education. Many of the Filipino immigrants at that time found agriculture work in the Central Valley of California. By 1920, the City of Stockton had an area known as Little Manila that stretched for several blocks off El Dorado Street in Downtown Stockton. Stockton became the hub for Filipino Americans.

According to PBS Wisconsin, “Little Manila was filled with chop suey houses, gambling dens and dance halls and was in the area of Stockton notoriously called Skid Row, but it was also the closest thing Filipinos had to a downtown. Below is a link to a film narrated by famed Filipino American producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day, The Patriot); this documentary; “Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland” tells the immigrant story as Filipinos experienced it.”

ViewFinder | Little Manila: Filipinos in California's Heartland | Season 5 | Episode 10 | PBS (external site )


LGBT History Month

Thursday, October 6, 2022

LGBT History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. It was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson. Many organizations supported the concept early on as did various governors and mayors, who recognized the inaugural month with official proclamations. In 1995, the National Education Association indicated support of LGBT History Month as well as other history months by resolution at its General Assembly. LGBT History Month focuses on the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month in June, on the other hand, originated with the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and is about uplifting the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Pride is more focused on the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, whereas LGBT History Month focuses on honoring the past.

LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community, and represents a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. As of 2022, LGBT History Month is a month-long celebration that is specific to Australia, Canada, Cuba, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, United Kingdom and the US. In the United States it is celebrated in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on October 11 and to commemorate the first and second marches on Washington in 1979 and 1987 for LGBT rights. The month now also includes Spirit Day on October 20, on which people around the country wear purple in support of LGBT youth; Ally Week, a week in which allies against LGBT bullying are celebrated; and the anniversary of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard’s murder on October 12, 1998, which led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.

In 2006, the civil rights organization Equality Forum became the official organizer and promoter of the month. Each year, Equality Forum selects 31 icons to honor, one for each day. This year’s icons can be found at https://lgbthistorymonth.com/.


Native American Day

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Native American Day acknowledges the tragic history of this country’s indigenous people while also celebrating their culture and history of accomplishment and resilience. It is a day to honor those who have been a part of the American tradition even before this country formed as a nation. In 1939, California Governor Culbert Olson declared October 1 to be "Indian Day", making this state the first to honor this holiday. In 1968, Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution calling for a holiday called American Indian Day, to be held the Fourth Friday in September. In 1998, the California Assembly renamed the holiday Native American Day and in 2021 it became an official state holiday, designated annually on the fourth Friday in September. This year it falls on September 23rd.

Observance of this holiday reminds us of the persecution and tragedy Native Americans have suffered throughout our history. It also serves as an opportunity for all to understand the genocide that occurred and how our indigenous people persisted despite horrific adversity. Moreover, the day is about celebrating the irreplaceable heritage, contributions, and culture of the Native American populations. Native American Day is about appreciating the long history and traditions that Native Americans have preserved through the centuries.

Native American contribution to our Western culture is seen throughout public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields integral to our society. Native Americans have served, and continue to serve, in the United States Armed Forces with distinction and honor defending our security every day.

Native American Day reminds us of the enduring legacy of fortitude, energy and strength of our indigenous people.


Hispanic Heritage Month

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities. The event, which spans from September 15 to October 15, commemorates how those communities have influenced and contributed to American society at large.

Hispanic Heritage Month actually began as a commemorative week when it was first introduced in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley. The push to recognize the contributions of the Latinx community had gained momentum throughout the 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its peak and there was a growing awareness of the United States' multicultural identities. On September 17, 1968, Congress officially authorized and requested the president to issue annual proclamations declaring September 15 and 16 to mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week and called upon the “people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation the same day.

The timing of Hispanic Heritage Week/Month coincides with the Independence Day celebrations of several Latin American nations including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, and most recently Belize.

From 1968 until 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan all issued the yearly proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed a law that expanded the observance to cover its current 31-day period, so that the nation could “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.” On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. “Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities,” Bush said.

In the decades since, National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamations have been made by every sitting president of the United States. The month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. Hispanic Heritage Month 2022 will last from Thursday, September 15, 2022 through Saturday, October 15, 2022.


Women's Equality Day

August 26, 2022

In 1973 the Congress established August 26th as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. The Amendment granted women the right to vote, and came after decades of protest and a civil rights movement that started at the first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. The origins of the movement are described as follows:

“… [T]he push for rights for women had taken root during the Civil War, as women backed the United States armies with their money, buying bonds and paying taxes; with their loved ones, sending sons and husbands and fathers to the war front; with their labor, working in factories and fields, and taking over from men in the nursing and teaching professions; and even with their lives, spying and fighting for the Union. In the aftermath of the war, as the divided nation was rebuilt, many of them expected they would have a say in how it was reconstructed.

But to their dismay, the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly tied the right to vote to “males,” inserting that word into the Constitution for the first time.

Boston abolitionist Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was outraged. The laws of the age gave control of her property and her children to her abusive husband, and while far from a rabble-rouser, she wanted the right to adjust those laws so they were fair. In this moment, it seemed the right the Founders had articulated in the Declaration of Independence—the right to consent to the government under which one lived—was to be denied to the very women who had helped preserve the country, while white male Confederates and now Black men both enjoyed that right. ‘The Civil War came to an end, leaving the slave not only emancipated, but endowed with the full dignity of citizenship. The women of the North had greatly helped to open the door which admitted him to freedom and its safeguard, the ballot. Was this door to be shut in their face?’ Howe wondered.

The next year, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, and six months later, Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe founded the American Woman Suffrage Association.” Prof. Heather Cox Richardson, Letters From an American (Aug. 18, 2022).

The battle for voting equality would continue for years, with the two suffrage associations eventually merging, and initially found success in the western territories, areas that were looking to draw women to the largely male-dominated towns, but also to weaken the push for implementing Black voting rights (12 states/territories granted by 1920). The movement turned to the courts, as well: denied inclusion under the Fifteenth Amendment, suffragists fought for the right as “citizens” under the Fourteenth Amendment. In the 1872 election Susan B. Anthony successfully voted, setting up her conviction—in an all-male courtroom in which she did not have the right to testify—for the crime of doing so. This was followed by the 1875 Supreme Court (unanimous) decision determining that while women were citizens, such status did not afford them the right to vote. Of course, the same decision paved the way for restricting Black Americans in the South from access to the polls, as well. The movement continued, though, with focus by many of the suffragist organizations on local issues that would promote public health, morals and safety, as well as civil rights. With state movement occurring slowly, though, suffragists shifted their strategy toward pressure at the federal level, even staging a parade the day before President Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, President Wilson finally stood in support of constitutional amendment, questioning Congress: “Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?” In May and June of 1919 the House and Senate passed the amendment, respectively, and once Tennessee ratified the amendment on August 18, 1920—the 36th state signaling the three-quarters necessary for ratification—the Secretary of State certification on August 26th effectively altered the American electorate forever: 26-million American women had the right to vote in the 1920 presidential election. Of course, the struggle for women of color would continue for 45-more years as Jim Crow and Juan Crow laws continued to bar them from the polls.

Women’s Equality Day recognizes passage of the 19th Amendment, but serves as a reminder that full equality for women is an ongoing pursuit. See the full article from Prof. Heather Cox Richardson (external site ).

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Friday, May 20, 2022

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) (as of 2009 officially changed from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month) is observed in the United States during the month of May, and recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The AAPI includes cultures from the entire Asian continent—including East, Southeast and South Asia—and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

The effort to officially recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s, and took over 10 years to make it a permanent month-long celebration. A former congressional staffer in the 1970s, Jeanie Jew, first approached Representative Frank Horton with the idea of designating a month to recognize Asian Pacific Americans, following the bicentennial celebrations. In June 1977 Representatives Horton, and Norman Y. Mineta, introduced a United States House of Representatives resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian- Pacific Heritage Week.

The proposed resolutions sought that May be designated for two reasons. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States and on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.

President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration on October 5, 1978. May was annually designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 under the George H. W. Bush administration with the passing of Public Law 102-540 (external site pdf  ). On May 1, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Proclamation 8369, recognizing the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured and overcome hardship and heartache. In the earliest years, tens of thousands of Gold Rush pioneers, coal miners, transcontinental railroad builders, as well as farm and orchard laborers, were subject to unjust working conditions, prejudice, and discrimination—yet they excelled. Even in the darkness of the Exclusion Act and Japanese internment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have persevered, providing for their families and creating opportunities for their children. Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2009, as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”

For more information on AAPI month please click on the links below.


75th Anniversary of Major League Baseball's Integration by Jackie Robinson

Friday, April 15, 2022

#42 Changed the World

Jackie Robinson’s success on the playing field paved the way for widespread integration.

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s integration by Jackie Robinson, whose success extended far beyond the playing field. From his pivotal role in the “noble experiment” to open the league to Black players to becoming a model for widespread integration, Jackie Robinson changed the world.

Here are a number of ways you can commemorate this historic occasion with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Visit our “Celebrating Jackie” webpage, where you can:

  • Read our curators’ Collection Story about Jackie Robinson
  • Discover images of Jackie Robinson’s life, both on and off the field
  • Watch a new video about Jackie Robinson’s life and legacy with our curator of sports
  • Register for tonight’s livestream event “75th Anniversary and Celebration of Jackie Robinson Day,” at 7:30 p.m. Eastern / 4:30 p.m. Pacific

Learn more about Jackie at the National Museum of African American History & Culture Website (external site ).

“He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

After Robinson’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 1962


Japanese American Confinement-Day of Remembrance

February 19th is a significant date for the Japanese-American community. On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the U.S. Army to remove civilians from the military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California during WWII. This led to the forced removal and incarceration of some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, who had to abandon their jobs, their homes, and their lives to be sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country.

The prison camps ended in 1945 following the Supreme Court decision, Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo. The justices ruled unanimously that the War Relocation Authority “has no authority to subject citizens who are concededly loyal to its leave procedure.” The last Japanese internment camp closed in March of 1946. President Gerald Ford officially repealed Executive Order 9066 in 1976 and in 1988, Congress issued a formal apology and passed the Civil Liberties Act awarding $20,000 each to over 80,000 Japanese Americans as reparations for their treatment.

On February 18, 2022, a Presidential Proclamation (external site ) was issued reaffirming the Federal Government's formal apology to Japanese-Americans whose lives were affected by this chapter in history and proclaiming February 19, 2022, as a Day of Remembrance of Japanese-American Incarceration during World War II.


Black History Month

Friday, February 4, 2022

February is Black History Month. Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.

Black History Week was created in February 1926 by Carter Woodson. February was chosen for the initial week‐long observance because it coincides with the birthdays’ of former President Abraham Lincoln(February 12) and reformer Frederick Douglass(February 14). Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery

In 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too‐often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However it wasn’t until Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law in 1986 that the country began to observe it formally.

While Black History Month is synonymous with prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. (external site )Harriet Tubman (external site )Rosa Parks (external site )Muhammad Ali (external site )Jackie Robinson (external site )Langston Hughes (external site )Maya Angelou (external site )George Washington Carver (external site )Oprah Winfrey (external site ) and Barack Obama (external site ), there are countless other African Americans who've made a profound impact in history:

Madam C.J. Walker Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist, Madam C.J. Walker rose from poverty in the South to become one of the wealthiest African American women of her time. She used her position to advocate for the advancement of black Americans and for an end to lynching

Daniel Hale Williams was an American general surgeon, who in 1893 performed what is referred to as "the first successful heart surgery”.

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the U.S House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 and represented the state of New York

Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, he served on the court from 1967 to 1991.

Mae Carol Jemison became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1987 and was selected to serve for the STS‐47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.

Alice Ball was an African American chemist who developed the first successful treatment for those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy).

Thomas Jennings invented dry cleaning in 1820, he was the first African American to be granted a patent. For more information visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture Website (external site ).


Holocaust Remembrance Day

Thursday, January 27, 2022

International Holocaust Remembrance Day or the International Day of Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is held on January 27 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minority groups by Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945.

The United Nations General Assembly chose January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day since this was the date Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.

On this annual day of commemoration the UN urges every member state to honor the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism and develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.

For 2022 a virtual ceremony will be presented by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where Holocaust survivors will reflect on and honor the lives of the targeted Jewish people, other victims and those individuals who chose to help. (ushmm.org (external site ))

One can also join the conversation and share their reflections on social media using #HolocaustRemembranceDay and follow the Museum on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to honor victims and survivors all year long.

“The International Day of memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.” Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon January 2008.

National Native American Heritage Month

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

On October 29, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden proclaimed November 2021 as National Native American Heritage Month, stating:

“Native American roots are deeply embedded in this land — a homeland loved, nurtured, strengthened, and fought for with honor and conviction. This month and every month, we honor the precious, strong, and enduring cultures and contributions of all Native Americans and recommit ourselves to fulfilling the full promise of our Nation together.”

Some prominent Native American contributors to our society include:

Maria Tallchief (external site ), a prima ballerina who was part of the New York City Ballet. She performed in a number of George Balanchine’s ballets as well as theaters in Paris, Russia, and throughout the United States. A member of the Osage Nation, she remained active in the community and was given the name “Princess Wa‐Txthe‐thonba” meaning “the Woman of Two Standards.”

Joy Harjo, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the first Native American Poet Laureate. An award‐ winning author of six books, she has worked to highlight the work of other Native American writers through her Living Nations Living Words (external site ) project. A talented musician as well, Harjo brought her saxophone to her first poetry reading (external site ) at the Library of Congress.

The WWII Navajo Code Talkers created a code based on the complex, unwritten Navajo language. The Code Talkers participated in every major Marine operation in the Pacific theater, giving the Marines a critical advantage throughout the war. During the nearly month‐long battle for Iwo Jima, six Navajo Code Talker Marines successfully transmitted more than 800 messages without error and were critical to the victory at Iwo Jima. At the end of the war, the Navajo Code remained unbroken. Veterans History Project (VHP) has collected and highlighted the work of Native American soldiers within its collections: Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Americans (external site ) in addition to resources on the Navajo Code Talkers (external site ) and the new Native American Veterans Memorial (external site ).

Billy Mills, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation from Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Surrounded by poverty and orphaned at the age of 12, he started running to channel his energy into something positive. At the 1964 Olympics, he shocked the world coming from behind to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters race. At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds and is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10K event. His win was an upset that has been called the second greatest moment in Olympic history. See his winning race (video in new tab )!

Deb Haaland appointed by President Biden to serve as United States Secretary of the Interior is the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. More information on Native American Heritage Month can be found on the Native American Heritage Month (external site ) website.


Filipino-American Heritage Month

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Filipino American History Month (also known as FAHM) is celebrated in the United States during the month of October. October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587.

Filipino Americans are the second‐largest Asian American group in the nation and the third‐largest ethnic group in California, after Latinx and African Americans.

In California, Filipino American History Month was first recognized statewide in 2006, when the California Department of Education placed it on its celebrations calendar. On September 9, 2009, the California State Assembly voted to “designate the month of October 2009, and every October thereafter, as Filipino American History Month.”

Rear Admiral Connie Mariano is a Filipino‐American who served as President Clinton's physician. Chef Cristeta Comerford is also a Filipino‐American who has been the White House Executive Chef since President George W. Bush. Thelma Buchholdt of Alaska was the first Filipino‐American state legislator and Benjamin Cayetano of Hawaii was the first Filipino‐American governor. Rapper Apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo) of the Black Eyed Peas and singer Bruno Mars are Filipino Americans. The Los Angeles Rams' MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback, Roman Gabriel, and NBA coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat are both Filipino‐Americans.

To learn more about the celebration of the Filipino American Community:

See the Natural History Museum (external site ) website.


Hispanic Heritage Month

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latinx community. Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week” under President Lyndon Johnson, but it was later extended to a month during President Ronald Reagan’s term in 1988.

Since then, the month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. The month also celebrates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. They also include holidays that recognize Hispanic contributions such as Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day that is celebrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For more information see the National Hispanic Heritage Month (external site ) website.


National Disability Independence Day

Friday, July 23, 2021

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*Photo courtesy of Mary Lafferty

Do you know what this is? Did you figure out what these 17 groovy lines are about? These simple but important lines in the sidewalk are found at the sloped entry/exit to sidewalks—often you’ll see raised yellow bumps meant to accomplish the same thing: to provide notice and warning of an intersection, or perhaps slow and even prevent those with a disability before they unintentionally enter a roadway or crosswalk. They’re meant to inform, protect and provide access to those of us with disabilities. We can thank the ADA for providing these ingenious tools for ensuring all of us have the ability to move freely and safely through the community!

As such, we celebrate July 26th as National Disability Independence Day to commemorate the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The landmark bill prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees their civil right to access education, transportation, employment, and other services. Before the ADA, people with disabilities were not legally entitled to reasonable accommodations, including most public facilities.

Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12101) prohibits discrimination based on disability; that is, disability discrimination—like that toward race, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and other characteristics—was now illegal. The ADA also requires, however, specified employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public entities. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and upon later amendment in 2008 it was signed by his son, President George W. Bush (effective January 1, 2009). This landmark and comprehensive legislation also recognizes civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities for purposes of employment, government access and services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The Act protects qualified persons with disabilities, that is, those physically or mentally impaired in such a manner that their major life activities are substantially limited. “Major life activities” describes the abilities to care for oneself, perform manual tasks, and includes functions such as walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, learning and working. A qualified person is one whose disability meets the eligibility requirements for receipt of services, programs or activities. Whether a specific condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA is a case‐by‐case fact‐based inquiry. Pursuant to Title II of the ADA, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) — under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — is responsible for enforcing state and local compliance via health care and human service agencies, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs, activities, and services of public entities (i.e., state and local governments and their departments and agencies).

As you can see above, the impact of the ADA is widespread and is as simple as grooves in the road and as complex as the design structure of our buildings, or the technology we use in which to communicate. Of course, the importance of the ADA is also reflected in the image as what one might see as a curious or decorative sidewalk design is perhaps lifesaving to another!


LGBTQ Pride Month

The Significance of June 28th for the LGBTQ Community

Monday, June 28, 2021

On June 1, 2021, President Biden declared June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. As the President’s proclamation declares, “[t]he uprising at the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969, sparked a liberation movement — a call to action that continues to inspire us to live up to our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.”

For those unfamiliar with the Stonewall Uprising or the events that followed, below is a brief history of this movement:

In the 1950s and 1960s very few establishments welcomed gay patrons. Police raids of such locations were routine. The Stonewall Inn was a gay club located within Greenwich Village in New York City. On June 28, 1969 it was raided by police. In response, local LGBTQ residents and supporters participated in riots, followed by social activists who engaged in organized efforts to allow for the congregation of the LGBTQ community without fear of being arrested. The social unrest on June 28, 1969 and the days that followed are referred to as the Stonewall Uprising. The first gay pride parades took place on June 28, 1970, marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. While this event did not mark the start of the gay rights movement, it definitely invigorated LGBTQ political activism. As a result of this monumental occasion, June 28th is nationally known as Pride Day.

More information can be found at: https://nationaltoday.com/pride-month/ (external site ).

See the President’s Proclamation (external site ) for more details.


Juneteenth, Commemorating the End of Slavery in the U.S. Named a Federal Holiday

Friday, June 18, 2021

On June 17, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. For those who are unaware of this holiday’s significance, here is a brief summary of why this important day should be celebrated by all.

In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. However, two years would pass before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance. Juneteenth combines the words “June” and “nineteenth.”

In 1865 General Granger’s first order of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3, which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."

Please click the link below for more information:

Interesting Facts About Juneteenth (external site )