June 17, 2023

In Southern Illinois, Duckworth Commemorates Juneteenth


[CARBONDALE, IL] — Ahead of Monday’s Juneteenth holiday, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) celebrated and honored the holiday in Carbondale today. Duckworth began the day with a breakfast hosted by Carbondale Mayor Carolin Harvey at the African American Museum of Southern Illinois, where the Senator emphasized her commitment to policies that prioritize justice, health and equity for Black communities. Duckworth specifically discussed her work to address the maternal mortality crisis and environmental justice, both of which disproportionately affect Black Americans, as well as urged racial justice allies to reckon with our country’s history and push for a more just union for every American. Following the breakfast, Duckworth joined the Carbondale community for their second annual Juneteenth parade, and on Friday, she visited the city’s Juneteenth block party. Photos from the block party can be found here. Photos from the breakfast can be found here. Photos from the parade can be found here

“Juneteenth is about recognizing the history of our country and working together to bring equity and justice to Black Americans. For me, one of the ways I’m working to make that happen is finding ways to reduce our rising maternal and infant mortality rate—which disproportionally affects Black moms. It means committing over and over again to advocating for the largely working communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices, a movement that I’m proud to have my Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act be a part of.” 

Duckworth continued: “While Juneteenth became a federal holiday just two years ago, across neighborhoods, block parties and family gatherings, Black communities have long celebrated the day that, finally, marked the end of centuries of forced labor and abuse of Black Americans and their families through enslavement. While I may not share that same heritage, I am thankful for the ways Black culture has repeatedly shaped and influenced our entire nation and I know that Black freedom, joy and lives matter.” 

Juneteenth celebrates the day enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation, two years after the official abolition of the institution of slavery. 

Just this week, Senator Duckworth introduced her Maternal Health for Veterans Act, legislation that builds upon her Protecting Moms Who Served Act. Protecting Moms Who Served is helping to address the maternal mortality crisis among women Veterans by helping improve care at VA facilities and shed light on the scope of this crisis, particularly among women of color and was signed into law in 2021. In the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Omnibus Appropriations Act, Duckworth championed a provision to improve maternal health and make permanent an option that will allow states to continue to provide 12 months of continuous coverage during the postpartum period in through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This provision was based off the Durbin-Duckworth MOMMA Act to reduce America’s rising maternal and infant mortality rate, especially for moms and babies of color who are significantly more likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy.

Duckworth is a fierce advocate for environmental justice communities. On this past World Water Day in March, she helped re-introduce the newly named A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act, the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history. The bill would help achieve health equity and climate justice for all, particularly in underserved communities and communities of color that have long been disproportionately harmed by environmental injustices and toxic pollutants. Last year, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 which included several of Duckworth’s environmental justice provisions that would establish a federal advisory committee on environmental justice at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), reduce the cost share for restoration projects that benefit economically disadvantaged communities and enhance workforce development in STEM and water infrastructure with a focus on diversity and outreach in disadvantaged communities. In 2021, Duckworth’s bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help rebuild our nation’s crumbling and dangerous water infrastructure.