Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement following the passage of S.475, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. 

“On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery, the last enslaved people learned of their freedom, and today, the House of Representatives joined the United States Senate in passing a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. While this is certainly welcomed, it comes 156 years late, and after legislation to protect voting rights and address police abuse sits idle because of Republican Senators who refuse to understand the need to protect our communities and our right to participate in this democracy.  

“To put this moment into perspective, the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday happened in 1986 and we are still fighting for our civil rights. We are still waiting for Senate passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We are still waiting for lynching to be classified as a federal hate crime. We are still waiting for the terrorists who destroyed Black Wall Street during the Tulsa Race Massacre to be held accountable and we are still waiting for Black history to be accurately taught in our schools.  

“As we celebrate the passage of this legislation, let us be clear that we will not be distracted or appeased and we will not simply accept Juneteenth as a federal holiday in exchange for real action that honors our history and our place in this country and moves us closer to achieving justice.  

“In the days and months ahead, I fully expect my colleagues to join my urgent calls for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Senate passage of the For the People Act.  

“In the final analysis, it will be shown that platitudes and niceties are one thing but having courage and taking real action on this issue is another. Let us honor this day by working toward a nation in which Black lives and Black votes are protected and respected.”