Rome, June 16, 2023
Thank you, Rob.
This year, the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome made the decision to mark Juneteenth by hanging the Black Lives Matter flag. It will fly on our chancery building from today through Monday, June 19th, the federal holiday.
Juneteenth is a holiday that for years has held deep meaning and significance for African Americans. It is a day to celebrate the power and resilience of Black Americans, who have endured generations of oppression in the ongoing journey toward equal justice, equal dignity, equal rights, and equal opportunity in America.
Now, Juneteenth has rightly joined the calendar of American national holidays. On Juneteenth we can all, together, celebrate the joyful theme of freedom while at the same time solemnly recalling that our nation’s journey toward equality and equity has been long and painful…and is still incomplete. One only needs to look as far as this Tri-Mission to see that we have some work to do. We must ensure that the diplomatic make-up of our Missions is a true reflection of America. This year, millions of Americans celebrate Juneteenth against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to address racial injustice and the three-year anniversary of the biggest protests for racial justice in a generation.
As President Biden said, “Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power. A day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country. But it is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve.”