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Deputy Secretary Don Graves Juneteenth Message

June 19, 1865, known as “Juneteenth” commemorates the day that enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were read the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in the United States ‒ more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued it. That day and every Juneteenth since has represented the triumph and perseverance of African Americans. This delayed day of freedom represents the hopes and dreams of our ancestors and that the promise of a fair and equitable society would be realized for all generations. Signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021, this official federal holiday is an important hallmark in American history and while there is still much work to do, I am confident that working together we will fulfill America’s promise. On behalf of the Department of Commerce, I wish you a happy Juneteenth!

  • On behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce, it’s my honor to wish you a happy Juneteenth.

    Today, we honor the Black Americans who blazed trails before us, those of us living their legacy today, and the future generations who fill us with hope.

    The great presence of Black resilience throughout American history has shaped our nation and is cause for reflection. Today, I feel particularly grateful to serve the American people at the Department of Commerce. My ancestors owned a business on the grounds of the Herbert C. Hoover Building, and I am proud to be a descendant of one of the nation’s first Black patent holders.

    Equity is at the core of everything we do here at the Department.

    This year, we began implementing our DOC Equity Action Plan, which ensures that our programming and policies reach a diverse audience while promoting equity into every workstream. We are also implementing the DEIA Strategic Plan, which focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workforce.

    Commerce is proud to champion initiatives from the bureaus under our umbrella. Whether it’s empowering entrepreneurs from all backgrounds through the Patent Pro Bono Program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or helping minority business owners find export markets through the Commercial Service’s Global Diversity Export Initiative, we are constantly seeking new ways to level the playing field for Black Americans.

    The Department is also fortunate to lead the Minority Business Development Agency which works to promote growth, competitiveness, and entrepreneurship for business owners from historically underserved communities.

    This is only a glimpse of the work we’re doing at the Department to create better economic conditions for Black Americans. My promise to you is that we will always strive to do more and do better.

    As for today, we will celebrate Black history, culture, and achievement while recognizing the strides we must make to achieve equity and equality for all Americans.

    Thank you and have a happy and prideful Juneteenth.