June 19, 2023

The Institute for Responsive Government Honors Juneteenth; ‘Racial justice looks like equitable government responsiveness’

June 19, 2023


The Institute for Responsive Government Honors Juneteenth; ‘Racial justice looks like equitable government responsiveness’

CHICAGO – Today marks the 158th anniversary commemorating the day Union Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were freed — over two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This Juneteenth, the Institute for Responsive Government reflects on not only how far we’ve come in 158 years, but also letting Juneteenth serve as a reminder of how much more we need to accomplish in order to achieve a government that is equally responsive for Black Americans. 

Equal participation in our democracy leads to government responsiveness, and that’s why we work to pass practical policies that actually make a difference in who our democracy includes. Simple and effective solutions make a real difference: wins like same-day registration (SDR),Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), and restoration of voting rights are critical steps to a democracy that includes everyone.

Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government, released the following statement: 

Today, we look back and remember the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans in our nation. Along with looking back and celebrating the progress our nation has made in 158 years, it’s also highly critical to recognize that access to government services remains inequitable for many Black Americans.  

“To build a government that is responsive and accountable to Black communities, we must look at how we can address inequalities that federal and state policies continue to inject into our democratic processes. There are a number of policies that governments can and should implement — such as secure automatic voter registration, restoration of rights, same-day registration, and more — in order to knock down barriers between eligible Black voters and both participation and engagement in our democracy. 

“Black voices matter — they mattered 158 years ago when slavery was abolished, and they matter today and every day, not just at the ballot box. Now more than ever, it’s important for government composition and service  to include everyone, especially those in the Black community. So as we celebrate emancipation and remind ourselves of the notorious, lasting impacts of slavery, we also celebrate the states, elected leaders, and citizens who uphold their commitment to racial justice, government responsiveness, and a multiracial democracy.”

If you would like to speak to a voting rights or elections expert from the Institute for Responsive Government, please contact press@responsivegoverning.org


The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. IRG provides data, research and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.