Sen. Raumesh Akbari Marks Juneteenth
NASHVILLE — Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) released the following statement commemorating the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, when slaves in Galveston, Texas received the news that the Civil War had ended and they were free at last:
“My name is Raumesh Akbari. I am a state senator for Tennessee’s 29th Senate District and I am also the descendent of enslaved people in America. For me, Juneteenth is a celebration of the strength and resilience my ancestors found within themselves to survive against brutal and lethal oppression.
“In Tennessee, there are clear signs of this fortitude: Although the first Black female senator in the state of Tennessee was elected in 1989, today, the majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus is Black women and the top-ranking Democrat in the state House of Representatives is also a Black woman.
“Working together, we have enacted bipartisan criminal justice reforms to begin the deconstruction of centuries of detrimental legislative policy. I’m particularly proud of the work I’ve led on the intersection of education and criminal justice reform, as well as reevaluating lifetime prison sentences for minors.
“As a Black female lawmaker in the South, where we’re still fighting to overcome white supremacy in our laws, our economy and society, I am also marking Juneteenth by celebrating the people — black, white and brown — who are marching together across this nation for peace, fairness and racial justice.
“Just as word of the Emancipation Proclamation removed the last iron shackles, our work today must be focused on removing every ‘shackle’ constructed to repress freed Black Americans since the Civil War ended.
“The injustices are nearly countless: from the terror inflicted by the Ku Klux Klan and decades of lynch mobs to the civil rights violations of Jim Crow laws, housing discrimination and employment prejudice; then segregation, targeted over-incarceration, new voting restrictions, inequitable access to services, over policing and a broken school-to-prison pipeline.
“Black people in America have persevered continued cruelty and indifference for 400 years.
“It’s time for a collective reckoning and that’s exactly why people are demanding urgent action today. To me, the generations of people marching for racial justice today ensure a brighter future for millions of Black Americans is coming.
“Together we will realize America’s covenant with its people: liberty and justice for all.”
Juneteenth is considered the oldest known celebration that marked the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.