EAST BRUNSWICK – In honor of Juneteenth, members of the East Brunswick Township Council presented a proclamation acknowledging the holiday’s history and significance.
On June 13, Councilwoman Dana Zimbicki took the podium to deliver the proclamation to fellow council members and members of East Brunswick’s Human Relations Council (EBHRC).
Formed in 1991, the council was created to serve as a community liaison for East Brunswick’s diverse population. Ultimately, it aims to create social harmony by embracing and celebrating the various cultures, backgrounds and people within the township.
Several members, including EBHRC Chair Erum Shakir, stood with Councilwoman Zimbicki to accept the commemorative document.
The proclamation briefly detailed the history of the holiday, which celebrates the final emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865.
Although widely celebrated throughout the U.S. since 1866, Juneteenth was not declared a federal holiday until June 2021, when the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Zimbicki stated that the township’s proclamation serves as an opportunity for residents to enact the core values established by the Declaration of Independence.
“Juneteenth is an important opportunity to honor the principles of the Declaration of Independence and to celebrate the achievements and contributions that African Americans have made, and continue to make, in East Brunswick and across our nation.
“Therefore, now it be proclaimed that Mayor Brad Cohen of East Brunswick Township, along with the town council, do urge all citizens to become more aware of the significance of this celebration in African American history and the heritage of our nation,” Zimbicki said.
Following the proclamation, Shakir shared a short statement on behalf of the council. She explained that Juneteenth is a recognition of African Americans and their resiliency in the face of slavery and systemic racism. She stated that everyone can benefit from learning about the historical significance of Juneteenth and why it’s important.
After Shakir’s remarks, fellow EBHRC member Paula Quintin expressed hope for the future. Quintin stated that the history of slavery in America was shameful, but that Juneteenth represented a new chapter in the nation.
She explained that although further progress is necessary to remedy the long-term effects of that inhumane period, it’s undeniable that considerable strides have been made.
Quintin further stated that the EBHRC will continue to pursue diversity and equality in East Brunswick.
“While it’s the end of a shameful part of our American history, I choose to also see that it’s also a hopeful part of our American history. Because finally, this young republic chose, meant, and acted well with all great intentions to understand that all men are created equal.
“It’s an aspiration. I know we have a long way more to go, as is evident from all that’s about in our world, here and abroad. But’s it’s the very aspiration that I think is really enshrined in the mission of the EBHRC. We have been formed to promote a tolerant, inclusive, more diverse community.
“We stand here to affirm the intentions of the mayor and the township, to be that kind of community,” Quintin said.