Washington, DC (June 17, 2022) – On Sunday, the nation will celebrate its 155th Juneteenth National Independence Day. This day commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Today it represents Black Freedom in America. While this day is about commemorating the successes of our ancestors and freedom, there is still work to do. We must acknowledge this country's past injustices and the ways in which Black people in our country are still denied their freedom. Emancipation did not guarantee freedom from a criminal legal system that is plagued with racism and injustice. The sordid legacy of Jim Crow persists, and this is evident in the disproportionate policing and criminalization of Black communities. We cannot achieve a fair, humane, and just system without recognizing and continuing to teach our children about the centuries of racial inequality that have created our criminal injustice system. It is NACDL and its members’ mission to serve as a leader in identifying and reforming these flaws and inequities and redressing systemic racism. The defense bar is uniquely situated to call out injustices and fight for fairness in the courtroom and in the community. While we celebrate our history on this day, we must keep working towards a future of true Freedom and Justice for all Black Americans.
"Juneteenth is a day where we celebrate freedom, hope, and progress in the United States," said NACDL Executive Director Lisa Wayne. "It is a day where we can remember the end of a deeply horrific and unjust era and celebrate the steps forward on a path of equality for African Americans. Nelson Mandela said that ‘to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’ Let us take this day as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the fight – the fight against racial disparities, the fight for police accountability, and the fight to make the criminal legal system fair for everyone."