U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) had a constructive and illuminating conversation with fellow veteran, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black. During their time together, Chaplain Black shared the history behind Juneteenth and how Americans can honor the holiday as our country strives for healing.
Ernst on the murder of George Floyd and the need to listen and learn:
“As you all know, our country has been facing some challenging times. In particular I think about the murder of George Floyd, and what’s sparked a national conversation about race and injustices in our country,” said Ernst.
“Frankly, it shouldn’t have taken a loss of life for us to have a discussion about these issues. Today, is the start of what I hope will be more conversations to come. A chance for me to listen and understand the challenges folks across this country have faced for too long.” The Iowa Senator continued, “I thought today, Juneteenth, might be a great place to start the broader conversation.”
Chaplain Black on the importance of Juneteenth:
Chaplain Black explained that Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s. He clarified that while the Emancipation Proclamation was a good start, it did not effectively free all those who were enslaved in the south. “It was not until June 19th  that General Gordon Granger finally got to Texas… to make it very clear that all the former slaves were truly emancipated,” said Chaplain Black. “Juneteenth continues to remind us that we must ever be vigilant about freedom.”
The Iowa Senator asked Chaplain Black how folks can honor Juneteenth this year. He responded, “Well I think what you are doing here today, basically saying I want to listen…is a wonderful way for non-African Americans to get involved.”
To watch their entire conversation click here.