The first legislation to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday was introduced in 1996. The date became a holiday in 2021 — a full 25 years after the initial resolution, and you know there were years of efforts before it ever came to the House floor. Twenty-five years.

I admire the courage and perseverance required to commit time and energy to something where you may not see the results. Teaching children. Planting trees. Working to change policy. Reimagining a system. Addressing social justice issues. Fighting climate change. All these have long-term implications and it would be easy to do nothing because the goal seems so big or far in the future.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday because one by one, grassroots efforts persuaded states to recognize the day. By 2016, all but five states had observed the occasion. Securing national legislation is easier when the states are on board.

Because of the federal designation, today is a day off for many. Use some of your holiday hours to emulate those behind the Juneteenth observance and keep pushing for something that won’t be realized in the short term.

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