Kamala Harris marks Juneteenth with surprise visit with children at African American history museum

On Juneteenth, Vice President Harris paid an unannounced visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture to meet with a group of children.

As the first Black woman and her husband, Doug Emhoff, entered the room, they were greeted with shouts from the primary school students.

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 ask itself, ‘Who is free?’, ‘How do we define freedom?'” she added.

The vice president stated that freedom is a “God-given right” and “your birthright,” but that it was taken away from the children during slavery.

Harris posed the question to the students, “Around the world, do all people have freedom? Are there those who are without freedom?” “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,” she concluded.

Her spouse, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, was also present, and he described the museum as his “favorite place” in Washington, D.C. The two took a walk around the room, stopping to talk to the children that were present. As Emhoff watched, the vice president greeted each student and their parents.

Due to the celebration of Juneteenth, the White House’s public schedule was sparse on Monday. Before returning to Washington, President Biden spent the day with his family in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Juneteenth celebrates the day on which slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years prior on June 19, 1865.

President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, calling it “one of the greatest honors” of his presidency.