An open letter from Mayor Neeley in honor of Juneteenth: 

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June 19, 2020

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring illegal America’s greatest ill. It took two-and-a-half years for Union soldiers to reach Galveston, Texas, to set the slaves there free. That was on June 19, 1865 — 135 years ago.

Today, as we celebrate Juneteenth, I look around our country. I see the injustices. I see massive disinvestment in our communities. I see us shackled by poverty and inequality.

And, I realize: We are still waiting.

Yes, we have taken steps forward, but we still have a long march ahead of us. The fight for freedom is far from over.

This moment in time reminds me of a quote by Zora Neale Hurston: “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Slavery is a cancer on our society. The attempt to cure it began in 1863, and we still are marching toward a cure.

As a black man, I am proud to serve as your mayor. I am proud of the dozens of peaceful protests we have held.

I am proud that here our police were dispatched to protests to protect the protesters — not to silence them.

I am proud to see all shades of skin proclaiming Black Lives Matter.

I am proud our city is taking a series of concrete actions to better our community and continue the fight for justice.

— We have created a new community advisory board to our Flint Police Department.
— We have declared Black Lives Matter.
— We have declared Racism is a Public Health Crisis.
— We have declared that all police have a duty to intervene against another officer who is mistreating anyone.
— We are creating a new ordinance to make it illegal to call the police because someone is scared because of our skin color.

Our work is just beginning. We must continue to acknowledge what was and what is. We must properly teach our history while also pushing forward for a more just society.

In recognition of our history and in honor of the great achievements of African-Americans to our community and our country, we will begin today the process of declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in the City of Flint forevermore.

We will remember. We will honor. We will move forward. Together.

Unity is strength. Together, we can and we will demand — once and for all — freedom.

Let us march on ’til victory is won.

For the love of our community,

Sheldon A. Neeley,
Mayor of the City of Flint

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