50 Juneteenth Quotes to Celebrate Black Culture, History and Freedom

Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared that all enslaved people should be free in 1863, there were still enslaved people in many states awaiting their freedom. On June 19, 1865, Texas became the last state to finally enforce the law. Since then, Juneteenth is a day to honor and celebrate liberation. Many use Juneteenth as a way to support the Black community, buy exclusively from Black-owned businesses, celebrate through food and festivals and get immersed in the culture. In honor of the federal holiday, here's a list of 50 Juneteenth quotes that commerate Black culture, history, freedom, equality and hope.

Powerful Juneteenth Quotes

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1. “The 4th of July was never about Black people. Juneteenth is just for us. As Black people, we are told we don’t deserve our own holidays rooted in our own history. Everything is whitewashed. Juneteenth is for us…Juneteenth symbolizes the hope that my children and grandchildren will be free. It’s Black Joy and Black tenacity to survive.” — Tanesha Grant

2. “Juneteenth was a promise that was broken. Reconstruction failed and this country has continued to wage war on the Black body. Juneteenth also embodies the resilience of Black people. Even in the face of a broken system, we choose to find joy in resistance and celebrate in community.” — Obrian Rosario

3. “What I love about Juneteenth is that even in that extended wait, we still find something to celebrate. Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress.” — Michelle Obama

4. “In many ways, Juneteenth is both a local story and a national story. It really is in some ways the second Independence Day in this country. For many people, Juneteenth raises the fundamental question of the power and impact of freedom and the fragility of freedom. So, for me it’s an opportunity to both look back but to look ahead to make sure that that notion of freedom and the fragility of it is always protected and celebrated.” — Lonnie Bunch

5. “Today on Juneteenth, the day we celebrate the end of slavery, the day we memorialize those who offered us hope for the future and the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom.” — Angela Davis

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6. “Juneteenth means so much to me. It represents the freedom that my ancestors fought so tirelessly for. But rather than focusing on the brutalization of my people then and now. I choose to focus on hope. June 19th reminds me that I am the force of power to change this world and to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors to work towards liberation.” — Mariah Cooley

7. “Every June 19th is an opportunity for us to continue the momentum of memory, and the parade and the self-determination movements.” — Dr. Greg Carr

8. “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” — Barack Obama

9. “The American education system has taught us as children that Black people have a history in pain and survival. They have failed to teach us our history in joy, success, innovations and so much more. Juneteenth is a reclaim on our history that has been stolen. Juneteenth is greater to us than a Fourth of July or Christmas because it represents our culture, resilience, and deserving respect from a country WE built.” — Nia White

10. “I love that Juneteenth is now an official federal holiday. A time to honor our past and those who’ve forged a path to our present.” — Oprah Winfrey

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11. “The day we were free—everyone was free. Why not make it a paid holiday? We deserve that…We want a day that is inclusive to everyone.” — Pharrell Williams

12. “Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom.” — Jamelle Bouie

Juneteenth Quotes About America

13. “I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential.” — Shirley Chisholm

14. “Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all. We must remember it’s not my America or your America. It’s our America.” — Michelle Obama

15. “No matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.” — Barack Obama

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16. “What the people want is very simple—they want an America as good as its promise.” — Barbara Jordan

17. “We black folk, our history, and our present being are a mirror of all the manifold experiences of America. What we want, what we represent, what we endure is what America is. If we Black folk perish, America will perish.” — Richard Wright

Juneteenth Quotes About Freedom

18. “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.” — Coretta Scott King

19. “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” — Malcolm X

20. “We have simply got to make people aware that none of us are free until we’re all free, and we aren’t free yet.” — Opal Lee

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21. “Black liberation has never just been about Black people. It’s been about a fight for our humanity, for our dignity.” — Patrisse Cullors

22. “I got to fight on till I leave here, and I hope I leave some footprints.” — Mattie Jones

23. “Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” — John Lewis

24. “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would be also free.” — Rosa Parks

25. “You cannot take freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms.” — Michelle Obama

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26. “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” — Fannie Lou Hamer

27. “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” — Toni Morrison

28. “Where it’s freedom to express, freedom to live, freedom to earn, freedom to thrive, freedom to learn, whatever it is, I want to make sure that I’m a part of these spaces and opening doors.” — Angela Rye

Juneteenth Quotes About Equality and Justice

29. “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finger world to live in.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

30. “The pursuit of justice is all I have ever known.” — Harry Belafonte

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31. “You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much—for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold.” — Sojourner Truth

32. “To truly advocate for a beautifully just world that does not yet exist is to commit an act of radical imagination. Justice is only within our grasp when ushered in from a distant horizon of possibility—through study, imagination and effort.” — Cornell William Brooks

33. “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

34. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

35. “Let us not assume for one moment that our work is done, the struggle for equal justice continues.” — Fred Gray

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36. “Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” — Thurgood Marshall

Juneteenth Quotes About Hope

37. “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

38. “Peace is necessary. For justice, it is necessary. For hope, it is necessary, for our future.” — Harry Belafonte

39. “If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love. But we need to know, you can’t erase history. So, let’s learn from it and be damned sure it doesn’t happen again.” — Opal Lee

Juneteenth Quotes About Motivation

40. “Let no voice but your own speak to you from the depths. Let no influence but your own raise you in time of peace and time of war.” — Marcus Garvey

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41. “Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible.” — Angela Davis

42. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

43. “This is the time where everyone has a voice, where [there] are so many platforms dedicated to giving the average person a voice, so you can speak out.” — Issa Rae

44. “To the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.” — Kamala Harris

45. “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” — John Lewis

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46. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Davis

47. “Understanding history is one of many ways to break the cycle. Life up/amplify Black voices. Support Black-owned businesses. Reach back. Mentor.” — Chadwick Boseman

Juneteenth Quotes About Black Pride

48. “Say it loud. I’m Black and I’m proud!” — “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown

49. “Personally, there’s no better time to be the color that I am. There’s no better time to be Black. I’m proud. I’ve always been proud to be who I am.” — Serena Williams

50. “I’m rooting for everybody Black.” — Issa Rae

How to Celebrate Juneteenth This Year