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19 Quotes in Recognition of Juneteenth


By Jessica Alex


Celebrated in the United States, Juneteenth (officially known as Juneteenth National Independence Day) is also known as Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, Freedom Day and Emancipation Day. It’s a day on June 19, 1865, where 250,000 American slaves were finally freed in Texas, after the army arrived to reinforce the Emancipation Proclamation which had already been passed as law two-and-a-half year prior.


Not until June 18, 2021 –– nearly 200 years later –– did Juneteenth become federally recognized, when a bill was signed to legally solidify it as a public holiday.


Although progress has been made over the centuries, more work is to be done. In recognition of Juneteenth (a momentous holiday which is also a reminder of the dark history of America and the African Diaspora), here are 19 inspirational and thought-provoking quotes from Black icons and thought leaders.



  1. “We have simply got to make people aware that none of us are free until we’re all free, and we aren’t free yet.” — Opal Lee


“We have simply got to make people aware that none of us are free until we’re all free, and we aren’t free yet.” — Opal Lee

2. “If there is just about anything to rejoice it can be my ancestors, African People who survived the atrocity and stain of slavery… I honor them these days with a guarantee that I will keep on to combat for your unexplored desires and hopes.” — Viola Davis


3. “Today on Juneteenth, the day we celebrate the end of slavery, the day we memorialize those who offered us hope for the future and the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom.” — Angela Davis


4. “If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” — Martin Luther King Jr.


5. “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” — Barack Obama


6. "If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go." — James Baldwin


"If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go." — James Baldwin

7. "Understanding history is one of many ways to break the cycle. Lift up/amplify Black voices. Support Black-owned businesses. Reach back. Mentor." — Chadwick Boseman


8. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin


9. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker


10. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” ― Ida B. Wells-Barnett


“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” ―Ida B. Wells-Barnett

11. “Human rights are something you were born with. Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth.” — Malcolm X


12. “It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.” — Malcolm X


13. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King Jr.


14. “Let us not assume for one moment that our work is done, the struggle for equal justice continues.” — Fred David Gray


15. “Remember this in the darkest moments, when the work doesn’t seem worth it, and change seems just out of reach: out of our willingness to push through comes a tremendous power.” — Stacey Abrams


16. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” — Booker T. Washington


17. "I knew then and I know now that, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can't sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, 'This is not right.'" — Claudette Colvin


18. "Whether it's freedom to express, freedom to live, freedom to earn, freedom to thrive, freedom to learn, whatever it is, I want to make sure that I'm a part of these spaces and opening doors." — Angela Rye 


19. “In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.” — Shirley Chisholm


“In the end, anti-Black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.” — Shirley Chisholm


Which quote resonates with you the most?

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