President Biden warned on Monday of “outdated ghosts in new clothes making an attempt to take us again” in remarks commemorating Juneteenth, the nationwide vacation that marks the liberty of the final enslaved folks in America, and vowed that his administration was dedicated to defending Black historical past and civil rights.

Talking from the South Garden of the White Home, the place he held a live performance in honor of the upcoming vacation, Mr. Biden assailed efforts to erase Black historical past via ebook bans, restrict alternatives via assaults on variety applications and chip away at freedoms like the correct to vote.

“Our historical past isn’t just in regards to the previous,” he advised the group. “It’s about our current and our future. It’s whether or not that future is a future for all of us, not only for a few of us.

“People, Black historical past is American historical past,” he mentioned to applause, vowing that his administration would all the time “uplift it and defend it.”

Mr. Biden signed legislation in 2021 making June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal vacation, the primary new nationwide vacation since one honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was established in 1983. The vacation marks the day in 1865 that the final remaining slaves, dwelling in Galveston, Texas, realized they had been free greater than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The day had lengthy been celebrated by Black Individuals, however members of Congress and a civil rights activist from Texas pushed for years to make it a federal vacation. Mr. Biden has mentioned that signing the laws was one in all his proudest moments as president.

“It wasn’t only a symbolic gesture,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “It was a press release of truth. It was a couple of assertion of religion. It was a testomony to the resilience of generations of Black Individuals, who saved their eyes set on the nation’s North Star.”

Music artists, elected officers, civil rights leaders and students packed the White Home garden for the occasion, which additionally celebrated Black Music Month. The comic Roy Wooden Jr. performed emcee, and attendees included the actor Billy Porter, the discuss present host Tavis Smiley, and the musical luminaries Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Doug E. Recent and Kirk Franklin, who pulled Vice President Kamala Harris on the stage briefly to bop.

The celebration comes because the administration has made an aggressive push earlier than the November election to advertise its victories for the Black group as Mr. Biden seeks to retain help among the many important voting bloc, which has shown signs of slipping.

Though Mr. Biden by no means talked about any of his political opponents by identify, his feedback implicitly drew a pointy distinction with Republicans, lots of whom have promoted the insurance policies he attacked.

In her personal remarks, Ms. Harris ticked off administration accomplishments together with wiping out billions in pupil mortgage debt, capping the worth of insulin, appointing the primary Black feminine Supreme Courtroom justice and signing into legislation gun security laws. She additionally introduced a nationwide day of motion on voting on June 19.

“In some ways, the story of Juneteenth and of our nation is a narrative of our ongoing combat to understand that promise, our ongoing combat to construct a nation that’s extra equal, extra honest and extra free,” Ms. Harris mentioned.

Earlier than the occasion, the White Home issued a fact sheet outlining measures to guard Black historical past. These embrace displaying the original Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3 from June 18 to June 20 on the Nationwide Archives Museum, and offering new funding to all states to help studying and dialogue applications, touring museum displays and different studying alternatives on the legacy of slavery and emancipation.

The Schooling Division, the assertion mentioned, will even identify a coordinator for responding to ebook bans, together with assessing whether or not they violate federal civil rights legal guidelines.

Throughout his presidency, Mr. Biden has made a degree to honor Black Individuals who’ve sacrificed for civil rights, together with designating a national monument to Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, and posthumously awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Medgar Evers, the primary area secretary of the N.A.A.C.P. in Mississippi, who was assassinated preventing segregation in his residence state.

Throughout his remarks, Mr. Biden recalled his current go to to Normandy, France, to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day, reflecting on the service of Black servicemembers who fought abroad, together with Mr. Evers, who he mentioned was killed 61 years in the past this week by the “poison of white supremacy.”

Final month, Mr. Biden additionally awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Opal Lee, the 97-year-old educator and activist from Fort Price referred to as the Grandmother of Juneteenth for her decades-long effort to have it acknowledged as a vacation.

In his remarks on Monday, he recalled handing her his signing pen for the laws, crediting her with making the vacation doable.

He referred to as Juneteenth “a day of profound weight and energy, a day to recollect the unique sin of slavery and the extraordinary capability to merge essentially the most highly effective moments and painful moments with a greater imaginative and prescient for ourselves.”

“A day that reminds us,” Mr. Biden mentioned, “we have now a hell of much more work to do.”



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