CHICAGO – June 18, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today commemorated Juneteenth at the DuSable Museum of African American History and proclaimed Dr. Margaret Burroughs Day in honor of the museum’s founder. He also signed legislation to designate March 25 as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the state of Illinois.
Juneteenth is the oldest and most widely-celebrated holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
“Juneteenth is a day to remember our past and honor those who have made significant contributions to our present,” said Governor Quinn. “I salute Dr. Margaret Burroughs for her incredible work to advance the arts in Illinois and her dedication to ensuring that everyone can experience African American history and culture.”
Dr. Margaret Burroughs made the first of her many contributions to African American arts and culture when, at the age of 22, she founded the South Side Community Arts Center as a gallery and studio for artists and students. The center is still active today and Dr. Margaret Burroughs continues to serve on its board.
Then, in 1961, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, her husband Charles and other leading Chicago residents founded the DuSable Museum of African American History. The museum has since grown to be an internationally-recognized museum of African American art. It was originally located on the ground floor of the Burroughs' home on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago and is named for Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the first non-Native-American permanent settler in Chicago.
“As the founder of numerous community institutions, a fighter for social justice and equality during the Civil Rights Movement, and a respected artist and pillar of the African American community, Dr. Margaret Burroughs has touched the lives of countless individuals and throughout her accomplished life has embodied the spirit of Juneteenth by brightening the futures of children and adults all across the Land of Lincoln,” said Governor Quinn in the proclamation.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of the Civil War, freeing all slaves. Though Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was effective two years prior on January 1, 1863, a lack of Union troops in Texas prevented enforcement.
Also at the event, Governor Quinn signed a bill into law to designate March 25 as a Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the state of Illinois. House Bill 4586, sponsored by Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously. The holiday will coincide with the annual United Nations' International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which falls on March 25 annually.