‘Father of the Juneteenth Holiday’ honored posthumously

Atlanta Councilman Michael Julian Bond presents the award to Albert “Al” Ely Edwards’s son, Jason K. Edwards.
Photo courtesy Juneteenth USA

The Atlanta City Council on Monday posthumously honored the late Albert “Al” Ely Edwards, former Texas State Representative, renowned as the “Father of the Juneteenth Holiday.”

Councilman Michael Julian Bond presented the award to Edwards’s son, Jason K. Edwards. Juneteenth will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

“Yesterday, the City of Atlanta and Councilman Michael Julian Bond honored dad for his work,” said Jason K. Edwards, the son of the Juneteenth champion and chairman of Juneteenth USA, a nonprofit started by his late father in 1979.

“It was a wonderful honor for my dad and our family for the City of Atlanta to honor his work that started in Texas,” he added. “Juneteenth USA is profoundly thankful to Councilman Bond and the City of Atlanta for making this day possible.”

In May 2024, Juneteenth USA, which is the oldest Juneteenth organization in the United States, acknowledged the reference from the White House about Texas State Rep. Al Edwards, known affectionately as the “Architect and Father of Juneteenth” and his efforts to make Juneteenth a true federal holiday, the Atlanta City Council said.

“Juneteenth reminds the country of Americans’ national responsibility to honor the history of enslaved people and celebrate the freedom and rights US citizens count on,” it said.

The Atlanta City Council said Edwards, a prominent member of the Alpha Eta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., was recognized for “advocating to countless state legislators to pass Juneteenth in their state to create a state-led and state-celebrated national holiday, with unwavering commitment for almost four decades to transition June 19th from a Texas state holiday to a respected national holiday.”

Jason Edwards said, “Official recognition of the Juneteenth holiday lends profound significance to June 19, 1865.

“His political work with the 45 states that recognized Juneteenth by 2014 was aided by community activist like Opal Lee who, in 2016, took his state-led efforts and started her push for Juneteenth to become a Federal Holiday,” he said.

“My father dedicated his life to ensuring that Juneteenth would finally join the revered national holidays here that recognize major historical days in our country’s history,” Jason Edwards added.