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Celebrating Juneteenth: A Message From Our President and CEO, Steve Purves

History was made Thursday, June 17, 2021 as President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. This is the first new national holiday established since Martin Luther King Day in 1983.

Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth is a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth” and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Its name comes from June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger led Union troops into Galveston, Texas, and issued an order announcing that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free.” Months later, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the final three border states that had not been subjected to President Abraham Lincoln’s order.*

A Juneteenth celebration in Emancipation Park in Houston's Fourth Ward in 1880
(Pictured: A Juneteenth celebration in Emancipation Park in Houston’s Fourth Ward in 1880. Source: NPR, Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

At Valleywise Health, we understand the incredible significance of this historic moment and are proud to support those who fought to make it a federal holiday, as well as the many people who find personal peace and joy in its recognition.

This is not just a day for celebration, however. It’s also an opportunity for all of us to take a step back and make a commitment to do all we can to combat racism and the hatred and inhumanity that it represents. We can support those who have never given up hope in the long push for our nation to live up to the promise of equal opportunity for all.

As an organization, we can also continue to embrace our diversity as something special and beautiful. As we live out our mission of providing exceptional care to every patient, we hope you’ll join us in honoring this milestone in our nation’s history.


Stephen A. Purves
President & CEO

*Source: The New York Times

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