Jun 17, 2021
Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference June 17
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press briefing on June 17, 2021. Read the transcript of the press conference here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:09)
Good morning, everyone, and a good morning it is. It is one filled with joy and pride as the Congress takes this overdue action to declare Juneteenth a national holiday. We salute Sheila Jackson Lee, sponsor of the legislation, and Danny Davis, standing with us, the original sponsor of the legislation. Where is he? Is he there? Hey, Danny, thank you, and let us salute the congressional black caucus and the leadership of Joyce Beatty, for their leadership on all this. The Black Cauc is all of you who have worked for this recognition for a long time, so this is a great day.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:57)
Let us recognize the Texas delegation which received this message, not this delegation, but Texas received this message in 1865, nearly two and a half years after the emancipation proclamation was signed. Let’s hear it for Texas. Not quite Sheila’s district, but abutting. It’s Galveston. It actually is where Barbara Lee…
Jim Clyburn: (01:30)
Nancy Pelosi: (01:30)
Well, she was born, but also her grandfather lived at-
Jim Clyburn: (01:35)
I think it’s [crosstalk 00:01:37].
Nancy Pelosi: (01:37)
10 years after this he was born, and her great grandmother was a slave in Galveston when this proclamation came forth. So anyways, there’s a connection. Activists and leaders over the years all deserve credit for this.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:55)
This step is important, obviously, to the congressional black caucus, but this is an important step for America as we ensure that one of the most momentous events in our history finally takes its official place of honor in our nation. Again, over the past 156 years, Juneteenth has evolved as a day not only of celebration but of reflection, reminding us of a history much stained by brutality and injustice.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:27)
We all remain committed to the fight to end racism and advance justice, which continues with a renewed urgency. In that spirit, let us strive to honor the ideal of equality, America’s heritage, and hope. A champion for that, whom I have seen receive the Liberty and Justice For All award with great pride, our House Democratic Whip, Jim Clyburn.
Jim Clyburn: (03:00)
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Madam, speaking. Thanks to all my colleagues for just a tremendous effort on behalf of a issue that has taken more than a century and a half. I yesterday told the story of Phillip Reed. Phillip Reed was born a slave in South Carolina, and he was bought and brought to Washington DC to work in a foundry. He worked in that foundry that was the foundry that shape mold, if you please, Lady Liberty that’s on top of this building.
Jim Clyburn: (03:48)
All of us know that this great building was built on the backs of slaves, but few people know that all of the learned people that worked on this, all of the scientists and the architects, the ones who got Lady Liberty into form, for some strange reason, they could not get it on top of this building. They struggled out on these grounds to get it up there. Phillip Reed, unlearned, came to the rescue. It was Phillip Reed who knew geometry. He could not read, but he knew geometry, and he got the method of getting that Lady Liberty on top of this building.
Jim Clyburn: (04:42)
That’s the story. That’s the story that Juneteenth is all about. It’s a story that needs to be told because we need to learn to communicate with each other. Juneteenth came about because of a lack of communication. Congress passed a Master Patient Act in 1862 to free the slaves here in District of Columbia. Abraham Lincoln sat down and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to be effective January 1st, 1863. But because of a lack of communication, it was not until June 19th, 1865, that the word got to Texas.
Jim Clyburn: (05:24)
If we learn, as I said yesterday, the art and the value of communication, we will save a whole lot of hardship for the American people. Congratulations, my colleagues, for what you’ve done here today. [inaudible 00:05:42] the long [inaudible 00:05:42].
Nancy Pelosi: (05:42)
Thank you, Mr. Clyburn. Mr. Clyburn reminds us that when this word reached Texas, President Lincoln had already been assassinated. But before that, in March, he made was called Lincoln’s greatest speech at his second inaugural. It was the first inauguration that black folk were able to come as free people, not just one person here or there, but as free people. It was raining for the days before, and the streets were full of mud because there were mud anyway, but full of mud. So white folk came in their foul weather gear, but black folk came in their Sunday finery.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:33)
When people write about Lincoln’s greatest speech, they write about the presence of the newly freed African Americans…. they didn’t call them that… coming to the Capitol. How proud those people who came there that day would be of this Congressional Black Caucus in largest number in history serving in the Congress. So thank you, Congressional Black Caucus.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:01)
May I acknowledge we’ve been joined by Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the Committee of Jurisdiction that brought the bill to the floor in real-time yesterday.
Carolyn Maloney: (07:11)
Nancy Pelosi: (07:11)
So let us get this signed because when we sign it, it will go to the Senate to be signed. It will go to the White House to be signed. All [inaudible 00:07:19] at once.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:23)
Jim Clyburn: (07:23)
Yeah. I’m right here.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:32)
Nancy Pelosi: (07:40)
Now I’m going to yield to Mr. Butterfield.
George Butterfield: (07:42)
Nancy Pelosi: (07:43)
George Butterfield: (07:48)
Nancy Pelosi: (07:48)
[inaudible 00:07:48] with the microphone.
George Butterfield: (07:54)
Yes. [crosstalk 00:07:54].
Nancy Pelosi: (07:54)
[crosstalk 00:07:53] do it.
George Butterfield: (07:54)
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. This anthem is very sacred in our community. If you can, please rise.
George Butterfield: (08:05)
Jim Clyburn: (08:06)
Yes. Let me thank all of you for being here today. The song you just heard in response to this great piece of legislation is a song that’s been around for a long, long time. It’s been made official back in the 1930s. It became the NAACP’s official hymn. For some time now James Forbes, the former director of Riverside church and the brother-in-law of Ed Towns, has been working on trying to get the country to accept this song as our national hymn.
Jim Clyburn: (10:08)
Not anthem. We’ve got one national anthem. We need a national hymn. Next month he and I is going to be doing the month-long broadcast on why Lift Every Voice is saying. That was first sung on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in Jacksonville, Florida over a hundred years ago, written by James Weldon Johnson and put to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:39)
Actually, James went to Johnson School.
Jim Clyburn: (10:40)
You attended that school?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:41)
Yes. James Weldon Jones.
Jim Clyburn: (10:44)
You didn’t learn how to write [crosstalk 00:10:47]?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:47)
Pretty soon, we’re going to get a South Carolina connection. Right.
Jim Clyburn: (10:51)
Yeah, we’re working on it. We’re working on it. Jacksonville, Florida is not too far away. But I would hope that people will really learn the song, look at the history of the song, look at the words of the song, and think about the words. There is not one ethnic group in the United States of America that cannot relate to that poem as it is written.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:18)
Beautiful. Thank you.