This year American citizens across the nation, of different races and creeds, are recognizing for the first time the importance of Juneteenth, a holiday marking the day when the enslaved people of Texas learned they were free and commemorating the emancipation of all African Americans. The National Puerto Rican Agenda rejoices in this national awakening and joins hands with our African American brothers and sisters in this celebration of heritage and liberation.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which went into effect on January 1, 1863, three years into the American Civil War. Ten years later, on March 22, 1873, Spain abolished slavery in Puerto Rico, setting free over 29,000 human beings or 5% of the population. As in the United States, freedom did not come immediately nor was it entirely the result of the work of the abolitionists. The enslaved people of Puerto Rico gradually subverted the system through acts of rebellion and resistance.
Today, after weeks of protest and further national trauma from recent events, we join in this momentous occasion of unity, compassion and heartfelt fellowship with Americans throughout the nation. Earlier this month, the National Puerto Rican Agenda called for national legislation to mandate an end to unchecked police brutality. We will continue to press and protest for change until we create a new law enforcement climate where police are held accountable, the rights of the citizenry are respected, and all American citizens receive equal treatment and protection from law enforcement agencies.
National Puerto Rican Agenda