Submitted by Lauren Moss, Office of Gov. Glenn Youngkin
On Sunday, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a proclamation on Fort Monroe, the site where the first enslaved Africans were brought to America.
He declared a partnership between the Fort Monroe Authority and Galveston Historical Foundation.
The collaboration was a commemoration of Juneteenth — a holiday observed federally for the first time this year that historically celebrates the end of slavery.
The governor acknowledged the roots of slavery across the commonwealth, as well as in the Hampton Roads.
“We remember that here in Fort Monroe as we just heard,” Youngkin said. “In 1619, the evil of slavery arrived on these shores, right now.”
Youngkin added the slaves were held against their will for 246 years. He said the enslavement of Africans remains a scar Americans should never forget. “It deprived liberty for the Africans that were brought against their will. It treated them as property rather than men and women created in the image of the almighty God,” he explained on Sunday.
It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that the last slaves in the United States were liberated in Galveston, Texas, through General Order No. 3. The order came from General Gordon Granger, who proclaimed all slaves as free.
“These two places, Fort Monroe, Virginia, and Galveston, Texas, are connected by history,” Youngkin said during the Juneteenth ceremony. “They are connected as step stones of the American journey.”
The history of the American journey is something he said should be told for generations.
“I want our children to learn our history,” Youngkin said to the crowd. “All of our history. The good and the bad.”
Addie Richburg is the Executive Director of the 400 Years of African American History Commission. She says teaching history is important. “We are deeply committed to making sure the country understands not just the celebratory aspect of Juneteenth but to understand what the history means. The truth of it,” she told 10 On Your Side.
Youngkin acknowledged the work of the commission. He said he wants all Americans to step foot on Fort Monroe and learn about the strength of those enslaved.