Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered state flags to half-staff in observance of Juneteenth.
State flags will be flown at half-staff beginning sundown Thursday through sundown Saturday.
Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves on Jan. 1, 1863, but it was almost 2 ½ years later, on June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger read the federal orders in Galveston, Texas, informing enslaved people in Texas that they were free. Juneteenth marks that day.
“Juneteenth is a celebration of human dignity and freedom, but it’s also a reminder of the dark and irrevocable original sin of this nation, the structural and social effects of which we are sadly still grappling with today,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “While we celebrate and recommit ourselves to the founding principle that all persons are created equal, we can never forget that this country was built on the backs of generations of enslaved black men and women. For them, and for our black New Mexican friends and neighbors, we lower the flags.
“With renewed attention right now on systemic racism, including but not limited to police brutality, this is a good time for all New Mexicans to pause and reflect and pray for a more just society for all,” the governor said, “and to contribute to the essential and ongoing and urgent work of making that society a reality.”
Juneteenth has been a New Mexico state holiday since 2006. The state traditionally observes Juneteenth on the Saturday nearest to June 19 – June 20 this year – so the executive order requires flags to be lowered both days.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a statewide Juneteenth celebration sponsored by many civic and community groups including the state Office of African American Affairs will be held live and online beginning at noon Saturday and will feature music, spoken word and dance.