Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Text of Gov. Perry’s Remarks at Juneteenth Emancipator Awards Presentation Ceremony Houston

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002  •  Speech

(Note: Governor Perry frequently deviates from prepared text.)

On June 19th, 1865, a people who had endured much, and suffered much, received great, though belated, news: they had been freed from the chains of oppression and indignity.

It is a date that should be remembered as long as there is a Texas.

No longer would the law recognize certain persons as property…all would be entitled to the promise of Texas: a place to pursue one’s dreams, and to test the utmost potential of freedom.

Since the day freedom was declared, we have witnessed the long, often difficult, march to equality of opportunity.  It has required great sacrifice, and clear vision.  And it has been advanced by pioneers who suffered much, and who risked their lives to secure a better day.

They were men and women like Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks…and here in Houston, Jack Yates. Born the son of slaves, Jack Yates was taught to read and write by his parents’ master…an illegal act under the laws of that time.

But the education he received was like a candle illuminated in his soul. It became a flame he would share with others, knowing the day of freedom would one day arrive, and education would become the bridge to opportunity that would allow freed men and women to realize the full benefits of freedom.

Today, Yates High School bears his name, and the students who walk its halls share his dream, and continue his legacy. Yates High School, like many Texas schools, is preparing young men and women for the opportunities of tomorrow.

At the dawn of the 21st Century, we must stand for opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or income.  Education is the means to opportunity and greater empowerment.

That is why we have made public education our highest priority.  By focusing on higher standards and greater accountability, we have stretched the learning potential of young minds. 

And by creating scholarship programs like the $300 million TEXAS Grant Program, we have sent a message to all Texans that regardless of their financial means, if they study hard and work hard, they can pursue a college degree and a brighter future.

This Juneteenth, we know that freedom once deprived is now abundant to all.  And we know that the promise of tomorrow is a promise all can inherit.

We are a Texas of great diversity but common hopes: that our children succeed and live meaningful lives…that our communities are vibrant and safe…that economic opportunity is ample…and that our own lives would leave a lasting imprint on this Texas we love.

May all Texans celebrate Juneteenth as a great day of freedom, and may we all renew our commitment to use freedom to pursue the common good. 

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the great people of Texas.

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