Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

This Wednesday, June 19, recognizes the federal Juneteenth holiday that President Biden signed into law in 2021.

The day commemorates the June 19, 1865, General Order #3 by Major-General Gordon Granger of the Union Army in Texas, who wrote: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that of employer and hired labor.”

Granger’s order followed by two years President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which declared all Black people held captive in the states that rebelled against the United States were free. Confederate and some border states unlawfully ignored the proclamation even after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865, ending the Civil War. Granger’s general order brought Texas in line. Slavery in the U.S., however, did not formally end until passage and ratification of Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution on December 18, 1865.

The hospital and healthcare community are mindful of the fact that despite the celebration of Juneteenth, systemic and institutional injustices perpetuated against Black communities have resulted in alarming disparities in health access, quality, and outcomes across the healthcare system. MHA, alongside our members, is committed to an ongoing journey toward anchoring equity across public health and healthcare.