Kamala Harris makes surprise Juneteenth appearance at African American history museum

June 20 (UPI) — Vice President Kamala Harris surprised a group of children Monday at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as they learned about Juneteenth.

The first Black woman to serve as vice president and her husband, Doug Emhoff, were greeted with cheers from the elementary schoolers as they entered the room.

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Harris spoke briefly to the children and their parents about the new federal holiday.

“Today is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom and think about it in terms of the context of history, knowing that Black people in America were not free for 400 years of slavery,” Harris said.

“And then with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War, it required America to really ask itself, ‘Who is free?’, ‘How do we define freedom?'” she added.

The vice president said freedom is “our God-given right” and is “your birthright,” but told the children that it was taken during slavery.

Harris asked the students, “Around the world, do all people have freedom? Are there those who are without freedom?”

She concluded by saying Juneteenth “is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom but [also] to speak about it honestly and accurately both in the context of history and current application.”

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The vice president then greeted each student and their parents as Emhoff looked on.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when slaves being held in Galveston, Texas, were informed President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed a law formally making Juneteenth a federal holiday, calling it “one of the greatest honors” of his presidency.

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