US Bishops' Chairman of African American Affairs - Bishop Perry Explains Why and How Catholics Should Celebrate Juneteenth

As the United States marks Juneteenth, Most Rev. Joseph N. Perry, Chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs discusses the significance of the day and the “commitment of religiously grounded people to do better, to be relentless in our pursuit of equality and equity.” 

As people of faith, we must always recognize and remember that each person is made in the image and likeness of God. May God continue to guide us as we confront the sin of racism and the history of slavery in our country. 

Video Transcript: Hello friends; I'm Bishop Joseph Perry, chair of the United States Bishop subcommittee on African-American Affairs, wanting to wish everyone a Happy Juneteenth. Of course, it is also known as Freedom Day; an emancipation day, a significant day in our history.

June 19th, 1865 and 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, federal troops rode into Galveston Texas to inform a surprised group of enslaved people in that area that they were indeed free. Juneteenth is a time to commemorate the end of Slavery to reflect on the history and Legacy of racism in our country, as well as to underscore our commitment as religiously grounded people to do better. We must remain relentless in our pursuit of both equality and equity. You know, history is a powerful venue for reflecting on our society's evolution history can serve as a guidebook to our present as well as a compass pointing to our future. Our nation for some time now has been engaged in a reassessment of racial equality. We must remain relentless in the pursuit of creating a society where we respect one another as persons with fundamental dignity made in the image and likeness of God and for this reason, we welcome Juneteenth becoming a Federal holiday and at the same time a momentous step for our society there is still work to be done the impact of slavery and its results is still experienced across our country today. Including through spared Access to Health Care, quality education, and economic opportunity. We've even had to take a hard look at our Church's participation in this sinful history. Some ways you might commemorate the Juneteenth holiday might be to support a local black business or worship at a black Catholic Church in your diocese, or even study and learn more about how we can address the sin of racism by studying the United States Bishop's pastoral letter Open Wide our Hearts (See Link below). no matter what you choose to do we all have a role to play in building a better church and society today and for future generations. May God continue to bless you your loved ones and our church have a blessed Juneteenth!
 Learn more by reading “Open Wide Our Hearts: An Enduring Call to Love” a pastoral letter against racism published by the USCCB in 2018