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LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 19: A young girl sits on a man's shoulders during the Louisville Juneteenth Festival at the Big Four Lawn on June 19, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day, commemorates the end of chattel slavery on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, in compliance with President Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. US President Joe Biden signed legislation into law as Juneteenth National Independence Day on June 17th, 2021. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)


Thank you. Thank you so much. Just think about it. There were 109 mayors, and the Juneteenth flag was never raised here at Bowling Green. 

In 2022, when I became the mayor of the City of New York, this location where slaves were traded and families were ripped apart, and I traveled to the continent of Africa and stood on the shores of Senegal and looked out from Gorée Island, realizing that my ancestors left Africa in slavery, I returned with the mayoralty. 

That’s the greatness of our resiliency as African Americans and what we represent, and why it’s so significant to raise this flag. It’s also significant not only to raise the flag, but to do an acknowledgement of our ancestors on how we got here. Look at where we are, people of African ancestry. 

Right now, you have a mayor of the most important city on the globe from African ancestry. You have the congressman who was leading the minority party in Congress for the first time, Hakeem Jeffries, African ancestry, Jumaane Williams, public advocate, African ancestry, Letitia James, the attorney general of the State of New York, African ancestry, majority leader in the State Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, African ancestry, Carl Heastie, the assemblyman, the speaker, African ancestry. 

You look down the list, and you will see that Juneteenth may not have been the day when we acknowledged the ending of slavery, but now we see the accumulation of all of our prayers, all of our ancestors, all of our fighters. America is a great country because they had hundreds of years of free labor that we built America. Don’t be ashamed of who we are and what we are. 

I am unapologetic. I love this country deeply. I believe this country has provided so much for so many, but let’s not get it mixed up. I’m American, but I’m African. I’m African, and I am proud to be African, as any other ethnic group in this country should be proud to be. We need to continue to understand the significance of the moment when we do these flag raises. 

So many countries never had their flag raised in Bowling Green because this city often was dismissive of other ethnic groups, as though they did not exist. No one noticed them. When I see them, I see them, and I know how proud they are when I raise their flags for the first time when I became mayor. 

My role as mayor is not only to raise their flag, but raise the people of this city, because being a mayor is not only substantive, it’s symbolic. Symbolism is so important. If you don’t believe symbolism is important, look how things are done whenever something is not coordinated in the proper fashion. 

Also, as we raise the flag, look over to the left of me and see these men and women of African ancestry that are now members of the New York City Police Department, the greatest Police Department on the globe, as they continue to keep us safe. This is the same Police Department that at one time was used to hold down those of African ancestry. Now we see their presence, and we see them rise up to the occasion. 

Many flags are raised, and I’m happy to raise them, but I’m proud in this moment as we celebrate Juneteenth and what it means to all of us. As we have these young scholars that are here watching us and looking at us, let’s hope this plants a seed in them that they should be proud not only to be Americans, but also to be Africans. 

We are African Americans, and on Juneteenth, we celebrate all that we have contributed to this great country. This country is great because we made it great. Congratulations to Juneteenth.

Mayor Eric Adams

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