Biden, Honoring Juneteenth, Warns of Danger of ‘Old Ghosts in New Garments’

President Biden warned on Monday of “old ghosts in new garments trying to take us back” in remarks commemorating Juneteenth, the national holiday that marks the freedom of the last enslaved people in America, and vowed that his administration was committed to protecting Black history and civil rights.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House, where he held a concert in honor of the upcoming holiday, Mr. Biden assailed efforts to erase Black history through book bans, limit opportunities through attacks on diversity programs and chip away at freedoms like the right to vote.

“Our history is not just about the past,” he told the crowd. “It’s about our present and our future. It’s whether that future is a future for all of us, not just for some of us.

“Folks, Black history is American history,” he said to applause, vowing that his administration would always “uplift it and protect it.”

Mr. Biden signed legislation in 2021 making June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday, the first new national holiday since one honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was established in 1983. The holiday marks the day in 1865 that the last remaining slaves, living in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The day had long been celebrated by Black Americans, but members of Congress and a civil rights activist from Texas pushed for years to make it a federal holiday. Mr. Biden has said that signing the legislation was one of his proudest moments as president.

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