Unlock Premium Data: Up to 50% Off InvestingProCLAIM SALE

Biden, in early Juneteenth party, vows to keep fighting for Black Americans' freedoms

Published 06/10/2024, 04:41 PM
Updated 06/11/2024, 12:08 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Patti LaBelle (R) accepts lifetime achievement award from Gladys Knight at the 2011 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California June 26, 2011.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

By Andrea Shalal and Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated the Juneteenth holiday early on Monday with a White House concert that included singers Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle and rapper Doug E. Fresh.

Biden signed a law in 2021 that made June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. It commemorates the day in 1865 - after the Confederate states surrendered to end the Civil War - when a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform a group of enslaved African Americans of their freedom under President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

"Black history is American history," Biden told the nearly 1,700 people in attendance. He said he would continue to fight for the rights of Black Americans even as some political leaders were working to take away their hard-won freedoms.

"The day reminds us that we have a helluva lot more work to do," said Biden. "Let's keep marching. Let's keep the faith."

Long a regional holiday in the U.S. South, Juneteenth rose in prominence across the country following 2020 protests over the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black Americans.

Comedian and actor Roy Wood, Jr emceed the event, praising Biden and Harris for helping the Black community, including through lower prescription drug prices, expanded health care for veterans, investments in Black colleges and student debt relief.

He interspersed the musical program with brief history lessons, touching on Jim Crow laws that restricted civil liberties for Black Americans after the end of slavery.

Harris also spoke, saying this year's Juneteenth holiday would be a day of action for voting rights. She returned to the stage later for an unplanned dance with gospel singer Kirk Franklin.

Fresh asked guests to raise their mobile phones and turn their lights on to commemorate the many African-Americans who did not survive enslavement, illuminating the South Lawn of the White House as the sun set over Washington.

Biden sat in the front row throughout the concert, listening raptly and clapping along, but not getting to his feet along with many in the audience who stood and dance for nearly two hours.

Others who appeared at the White House party included singer and songwriter Raheem DeVaughn, singer and songwriter Anthony Hamilton, singer and actress Patina Miller, country singer and songwriter Brittney Spencer, jazz musician Trombone Shorty and the singer and songwriter Charlie Wilson.

© Reuters. U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris dances with Kirk Franklin during a Juneteenth concert hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The White House event comes during a heated presidential election in which Black voters are likely to play a central role in the rematch between Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump.

Biden frequently credits Black Americans for his 2020 win, but polls show that these same voters may not be as enthusiastic this November. Minor changes in political loyalties or low turnout in key states could influence who wins in November.

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.