Civil Rights

ABA commemorates Juneteenth with program exploring racial inequities

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The ABA is hosting a webinar Friday to commemorate Juneteenth, an annual holiday marking the day that people who were still enslaved in Galveston, Texas, walked away from bondage after they were told that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued two-and-a-half years earlier.

The program, “Juneteenth: Freedom Work Still To Do,” will be moderated by Paulette Brown, a former ABA president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Locke Lord.

James O. Goodwin, an attorney with Goodwin & Goodwin and publisher of the Oklahoma Eagle; Karlos Hill, an associate professor and department chair of African and African American studies at the University of Oklahoma; and Calvin Schermerhorn, a history professor at Arizona State University, will join as panelists.

They will discuss the historical significance of Juneteenth, which is also known as the Second Independence Day, as well as its connection to ongoing racial inequities in the United States. They will also explore how law and public policy could be used to address those inequities.

“I am excited about doing this program because I believe it’s an opportunity for most of us to be educated about the facts of Juneteenth and to clear up ambiguities concerning this momentous occasion,” Brown told the ABA Journal in an email. “We want to impress upon everyone the importance of Juneteenth, not just this year but every year.

“Many African Americans consider Juneteenth to be our Independence Day. As a people who have given beyond measure to this country, their (our) independence must be recognized and celebrated in the same way as July 4.”

The webinar is sponsored by the ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the ABA’s Diversity and Inclusion Center and the ABA’s Center for Public Interest Law.

For more information or to register, visit

Updated June 19 at 9:16 a.m. to add comments from Paulette Brown.

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