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Zelenskyy Inspects Damage from Russian Military Strikes; Explosions Rock Kyiv; Japan Welcomes Ukrainian Refugees; June Temperature Records Broken in Europe; January 6 Hearings; COVID Vaccines for Young Children; Colombia Election; Juneteenth, Freedom for All. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired June 19, 2022 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all you watching here in the United States, Canada and all around the world. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will not give away the south to anyone. We will return everything that's ours and the sea will be Ukrainian and safe.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Ukraine's president vows not to yield any territory as he surveys the destruction throughout the south.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): As dangerous and extreme weather hits, how cities are appointing heat officers to combat the rising temperatures.
Plus -- festivities are underway for America's newest federal holiday, Juneteenth. Why it's important here in the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.
BRUNHUBER: Officials say fighting rages around Sievierodonetsk as defenders hold the line against Russian forces in Ukraine. The governor of Luhansk said that the Russians tried to break through defenses but were pushed back in an attempt to cut off Ukrainian units.
The governor also said a chemical plant sheltering civilians has been shelled again. Meanwhile, the area around the capital, Kyiv, was rattled hours ago by a series of explosions. Military officials say air defenses worked on enemy targets but so far no fires or casualties reported. Officials are urging people to stay in shelters. And President Zelenskyy is pledging to regain all the territories
captured by Russia in Ukraine's south. He spoke after visiting two cities in the region and seeing residential areas hammered by artillery and missiles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY (through translator): The losses are significant. Many houses were destroyed, civilian logistics were disrupted, there were many social issues. We will definitely restore everything that was destroyed.
Russia does not have as many missiles as our people have the desire to live. We will not give away the south to anyone. We will return everything that is ours and the sea will be Ukrainian and safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: We begin in Kyiv, where we're monitoring those explosions.
What more do we know?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the early hours this morning, we heard air raid sirens. One producer said she heard explosions. Later we found out from officials that air defense systems were deployed and that Russian missiles were intercepted.
Attacks on the capital have been rare, of course, since Russian troops withdrew; the last time they attempted to hit Kyiv on June 5th. But Russia's capabilities continue to be able to reach the capital.
And it comes just a day after President Zelenskyy was, of course, visiting those two front line cities, targeted by Russia to take control of the Black Sea. It's a continuation of his strategy. He's been an ever-present leader, seen there touring the devastation.
He later handed out medals to Ukrainian soldiers, saying, "Take care of Ukraine, it's all we have."
He moved to Odessa, ever more important because it's a port city. Along that southern coast, Russian forces have been able to occupy many of those areas. The Black Sea has been a flashpoint essentially. Russian warships, Ukraine is accusing them of blockading Ukraine's ability to export.
There were nine civilian ships currently being blockading according to Ukrainian officials. Although we're looking at the Ukrainian army and navy significantly outmanned and outgunned, they've been able to inflict damage in the Black Sea.
Ukrainian officials claiming they were able to sink a Russian tugboat. So it's part of that message of support and resilience that you hear over and over from President Zelenskyy. This is not just about sheer firepower; it's about the will of resistance and he wants to really communicate that along that southern front line, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you.
BRUNHUBER: Appreciate it.
No confirmation yet about the fate of three U.S. military volunteers missing in Ukraine, despite apparent videos and images of two of them posted on pro-Russian social media. As Sam Kiley reports, U.S. President Joe Biden is urging other Americans not to follow their example.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Biden has repeated his government's exhortation to Americans not to join the International Legion and not to travel to Ukraine and not to join combat operations. That's because the casualties here continue to climb. From the Ukrainian perspective, very heavy indeed, the government saying between 100 to 200 people are being killed every day, up to 500 being injured, a pretty catastrophic level of casualties.
They know the Russians have more people, more weapons, more resources to draw on if this become a long-term, protracted conventional war. That may mitigate against the Ukrainians' successes in the past week, a result of maneuver warfare, being able to move very fast and catch the Russians off-balance.
Part of that warfare reinforced by international volunteers, some of whom bring a great deal of combat experience, from the former NATO forces in particular but also a number of people with a lot less experience that have also been captured.
In the latest incident, a former U.S. Marine has been missing since April. He was last known going forward. He's a man with considerable experience. He was bringing in fire against Russian locations when radio contact was lost with him and the unit of foreign fighters near Kherson.
No information about his whereabouts. And other Americans have now been appearing on video, on Russian TV interviews, -- no Russian confirmation of this -- they were captured during a fight on June 9th. They were captured during a Russian counterattack.
They appear to be in good health, there's video of them. CNN is not publishing any of that because they're now prisoners of war, inevitably speaking under duress -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Kharkiv.
BRUNHUBER: It's been nearly four months since Russia invaded Ukraine, forcing millions of people to flee their homes to escape the conflict. The U.N. reports more than 7.7 million border crossings from Ukraine, another 1.7 million people displaced internally.
Most of them initially crossed to Poland but have moved on to other European countries or other parts of the world. Even Japan is opening its doors to refugees. Blake Essig reports from Tokyo.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a sea of people, it's often those you don't notice who are making the biggest difference.
Juana Stasi (ph) and Sophiia, wearing the purple and pink kimonos might have caught your eye, it's actually this guy, 24 year-old Shuhei Watanabe, who deserves your attention.
SHUHEI WATANABE, VOLUNTEER (through translator): This job is nothing but rewarding, I decided to live my life for others.
ESSIG (voice-over): That's because if it wasn't for him and other Japanese volunteers lending him a hand, who knows what issues these two women would be facing.
SOPHIIA, UKRAINIAN EVACUEE: I'm really thankful so much. I'm thankful to them because it meant a lot to us. It's a really hard time for Ukraine peoples.
ESSIG (voice-over): From airport pickups to tutorials and integral show experiences like this, Watanabe does everything he possibly can to help people he doesn't even know adapt their new lives thousands of miles from home. That includes Luisa Vecta (ph) and Leonid, who recently arrived from Kharkiv.
LEONID, UKRAINIAN EVACUEE: Shellings, the sirens, the massacres, yes. And what the danger was like near our houses, we decided to leave.
ESSIG: Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Watanabe says he's helped 20 Ukrainians start a new life here in Japan, a country historically known to be closed off to refugees.
ESSIG (voice-over): In 2021, more than 2,000 people applied for asylum in Japan. Just 3 percent, only 74 people, were given full refugee status.
Professor Naoko Hashimoto, a refugee policy researcher, points to logistical challenges, a lack of government support, a population that would just rather provide financial aid and racial discrimination as some of the reasons why Japan has been unwelcoming toward refugees.
NAOKO HASHIMOTO, HITOTSUBASHI UNIVERSITY: Japan for the past few months has shown, demonstrated that Japan can actually assist and protect forced (ph) migrants from abroad, if Japan can do this to Ukrainians why cannot they can do this and there forced (ph) migrants from other countries?
ESSIG (voice-over): But in this most recent world conflict, the Japanese government has made it easier for Ukrainians to come to Japan, classifying them as evacuees instead of refugees, as public support for them grows and attitudes shift. . As a result, so far the immigration services agency of Japan says more than 1,100 Ukrainian evacuees have been accepted
WATANABE (through translator): There are other people that want to come to Japan. I would hope them. At the moment, Japan is letting in Ukrainians. But if there are other people that are struggling to come in, I'd like to help change that.
ESSIG (voice-over): And it's that kind of individual effort that means so much -- Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.
BRUNHUBER: If you'd like to safely and securely help people in Ukraine, please go to cnn.com/impact to help.
It's not even officially summer and heat waves are boiling parts of the U.S. and Europe.
So when can you expect cooler temperatures?
A forecast coming up. And higher temperatures lead to an increase in heat-related deaths. We'll talk with an expert about a plan to help local authorities prevent these kind of fatalities.
Before we go to break, a note of defiance from the trenches in Ukraine. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Two soldiers singing "Bella, Ciao," an Italian song popularized as an anti-fascist anthem in World War II, later widely adopted as an ode to freedom and resistance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: We're seeing some of the impact from the worst drought in the American West in 1,200 years. And on top of that, right now, much of the country is sweltering in record heat. More than 250 million people in the U.S. will face 90-degree temperatures or higher for the next week. That's nearly 80 percent of the lower 48.
But those scorching conditions didn't stop people in Atlanta from commemorating Juneteenth with this parade on Saturday. The thermometer blasted into triple-digits.
Meanwhile, seven states are dealing with major power outages. This damage in North Carolina knocking out electricity to at least 80,000 homes and businesses on Friday.
And one of America's iconic national parks is partially set to reopen next week. The U.S. Park Service said the South Loop of Yellowstone will reopen to the public on a limited basis on Wednesday.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the devastating flooding was in a 1 in 500-year event. Some of the worst-hit areas of the park are in Montana.
BRUNHUBER: As temperatures climb across the globe, so do heat-related deaths. A recent study found the number of deaths caused by high temperatures rose 74 percent between 1980 and 2016.
Now according to the CDC, extreme heat kills more than 600 people a year in the U.S. alone but my next guest says cities can help protect the residents by appointing a chief heat officer to address rising temperatures, raise awareness about the risks of extreme heat and coordinate how the city responds to heat waves.
Only a few cities around the globe have that kind of position. In 2020, the city of Miami, Florida, appointed the first of the kind in the world.
BRUNHUBER: Joining me now is Kathy Baughman McLeon, the director of the Arched Rock Resilience Center at The Atlantic Council.
Thank you so much for being with us. Cities all have public health departments. And when it's extremely hot cities will often set up cooling centers.
Why have one person in charge of this one specific thing?
KATHY BAUGHMAN MCLEON, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: When you think about hurricanes in the U.S., we have FEMA overseeing and taking care of what happens before and after a hurricane.
And when you think about fire, we have the U.S. Forest Service and we have state-level CAL FIRE. But there's no governance, there's no one in charge of heat.
Secondly, there's no season for heat and these heat waves don't have names or categories. And so we need someone in charge of taking care of planning and thinking through protecting the most vulnerable people from this climate-driven hazard, which is the most deadly of all of them.
BRUNHUBER: Two examples of cities in which I've lived, Los Angeles and Sierra Leone. In L.A., the problem is heat and drought.
[05:25:00] BRUNHUBER: In Freetown, the biggest problem is flooding. So give us concrete examples of what these people would do.
MCLEON: Well, in Freetown, the focus is on sanitation and on cooling people and particularly women in the markets.
And in Los Angeles, Los Angeles has done a vulnerability study to understand the vulnerabilities and map where the most vulnerable communities are and prioritize their activities, which there are many, as you said, cooling places and cooler surfaces, green roofs, urban forests can change policies as to when workers are working.
We can change what we wear to work. There are all kind of interventions and actions that we can take. You're right, they're different in different places. That's why local governments are best to have a chief heat officer, because climate adaptation and addressing heat needs to be local.
And so it will be different in different places. But, of course, communities and CHOs can learn from each other and share their best practices.
BRUNHUBER: So I want to talk about cities specifically. I was stuck by these statistics, just to use L.A. County as an example. Extreme heat, L.A. emergency rooms see an extra 1,500 patients and an additional 16 people will die.
What makes urban environments so much worse when it comes to heat?
MCLEON: Well, there's something called the urban heat island effect. So the way we built our cities, with asphalt, steel and glass, the cities are absorbing heat during the day and then radiating the heat at night.
And so the way we built the cities and the materials plus the increase in temperatures from climate change means cities are extra hot. And in lots of places in the world, where farms are failing in the rural areas, people are migrating into the cities.
So you've got teeming population, rising temperatures and poverty and vulnerability. And so cities are a great place to start with this work, to address heat and protecting people from it.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, you mentioned, you know, poverty. But these deaths are disproportionately affecting minorities. At least here in the U.S., New York City just reported the rate of heat-related deaths is twice as likely among Blacks.
MCLEON: One of the things we also see in cities -- the story of heat in a city is the story of race and racism. So many of the neighborhoods in the lower income areas and communities of color don't have the trees, the vegetation or the greenspace that the wealthier areas have.
And so we looked at the economic impacts of heat and found in 2020 that the impact of loss from worker productivity -- so when we're hot, when we're working, we slow down, our thinking slows down, our hand- eye coordination is off, we make mistakes, we get hurt.
Oftentimes people die because of the heat. And the cost of that to the U.S. economy was $100 billion in 2020. And in 2050, that goes to $0.5 trillion. And so what we also found was that 18 percent of that loss is disproportionately borne by Black and Hispanic workers in the U.S.
And we expect to find that in places around the world in the next phase of this study. And so, you're absolutely right: heat is about equity and about racism and about racist housing practices.
And so you find that they go together and so that's why chief heat officers can prioritize those most vulnerable areas and invest in those interventions, short term and long term, to protect those communities first.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, anything that can be done to mitigate the problem, we're seeing what's going on now with this heat wave, underlines how important this is. Kathy Baughman McLeon, thank you so much for being here with us.
MCLEON: Thank you for having me.
BRUNHUBER: Election officials from key battleground states are set to testify when the January 6th hearings resume this week. Why the select committee wants to hear about those conversations between officials and Donald Trump.
And what parents have waiting for: COVID-19 vaccines for young children.
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
Hearings resume Tuesday in the investigation of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. It'll be the fourth of seven expected hearings and will focus on Donald Trump's attempts to coerce several state officials to throw out their 2020 election results after he lost.
One member of the select committee explains why this upcoming hearing is critical.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), MEMBER, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: We will get information about this broad effort to illegally seize the election, even though he'd -- seize the presidency even though he had lost the election.
As you can tell from our first hearings, there are different ways that he tried to do that, by pressuring the vice president and failing. And now we'll hear about his pressure on the states to replace the electors chosen by the voters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: CNN's Marshall Cohen takes a look at what's ahead.
MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The January 6th committee continues its work next week with a major hearing set for Tuesday. This is the fourth public hearing and it will focus on former president Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election in two specific states that he lost, Georgia and Arizona.
The panel will feature testimony from two senior Georgia officials, secretary of state Brad Raffensperger and one of his top deputies, Gabe Sterling. They are both conservative Republicans who supported Trump in 2020.
But they refused to do his bidding after the election, when he pressured them to interfere with the vote counting.
COHEN (voice-over): In a critical phone call, just a few days before January 6th, former president Trump desperately tried to get Raffensperger to mess with the vote tallies and overturn Joe Biden's victory. Take a listen to that shocking call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find, uh, 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: The committee will also hear from Rusty Bowers. He's currently the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. He's a Republican and he also supported Donald Trump in 2020.
Just like the other witnesses who are testifying, Bowers was on the receiving end of a pressure campaign by Trump and Trump's attorney at the time, Rudy Giuliani. They wanted him to toss aside Biden's victory in Arizona and appoint Republican electors instead.
But Bowers publicly rejected those efforts and he publicly rejected Trump's baseless claims of massive voter fraud. Also earlier this year, he even blocked a bill that some Republicans were pushing in Arizona that would have allowed the Republican legislature there to overturn elections in future. So look, the Democratic-run select committee has tried to drive home
the point that January 6th was about so much more than what happened at the Capitol. They say it was a months-long effort to overturn the will of the people and, in the view of the committee, they say it was an attempted coup -- Marshall Cohen, CNN, Washington.
BRUNHUBER: A number of people died at the Capitol on January 6 and in the days that followed. And one of them was capital police officer Brian Sicknick, who was injured during the riot. His death the following day was attributed to natural causes.
Sicknick and other officers guarding Congress were quickly overwhelmed as a massive crowd surged the Capitol after Trump told them to, quote, "fight like hell."
Sicknick's girlfriend says she holds Trump responsible for everyone who lost their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDRA GARZA, BRIAN SICKNICK'S PARTNER: We don't know what would have happened. Brian died from natural causes but we don't know what the next day or the day after that would have led to. We have no way of knowing.
But Donald Trump wanted to step in there and play a higher power. I believe that all of the people that died on that day and the days following, you know, would still be here today had it not been for Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: The hearings focus on Trump's actions before and during the deadly rampage. We'll bring you the hearings live on Tuesday and Thursday.
The White House says President Biden is doing fine after falling off his bike near his home in Delaware yesterday. Have a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Mr. Biden says his foot got caught on the pedal. And the Secret Service quickly helped the 79-year old get back onto his feet. A girl in the crowd later asked the president what it's like to run the country.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, it's --
BIDEN: -- it's like any other job. Some parts are easy, some parts are hard.
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The White House said he didn't need medical attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Many American parents could soon get their wish, inoculations for their young children against COVID-19. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. CDC, has approved the emergency use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the kids. CNN's Jacqueline Howard has more.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: The White House says shots could begin as early as this week. Pediatricians' offices and pharmacies will be the sites where most of these vaccines will be administered.
And remember, children under 5 will have two options, Moderna or Pfizer. The FDA authorized both for children as young as 6 months old.
Moderna is administered in two doses, given four weeks apart as a primary series. Pfizer is administered in three doses as a primary series. So the first two doses are given three weeks apart. The third dose is given at least eight weeks after the second dose.
And the dosage is different for each vaccine. Moderna is given as 25 micrograms, each dose. That's for kids 5 and younger. And that's half of the 50 micrograms given to older kids and a quarter of the 100 micrograms given to adolescents and adults.
Pfizer is given as three micrograms per dose for children younger than 5. That's smaller than the 10 micrograms given to older kids and the 30 micrograms given to adolescents and adults.
HOWARD: For both vaccines, when it comes to side effects, those include pain at the injection site, fever, headache, chills and fatigue. And both companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have said that these child-sized doses of vaccine appear to elicit immune responses in kids that are similar to what we've seen in adults so far who received larger doses -- back to you.
BRUNHUBER: In the coming hours, Colombians will choose a new president. How issues like food insecurity could weigh heavily on voters' choices.
Plus the U.S.' newest national holiday. Take a look at festivities and the history of Juneteenth. Stay with us.
(MUSIC PLAYING) BRUNHUBER: The stage is set for the presidential runoff election in Colombia between the leftist former guerilla, Gustavo Petro, and the populist self-proclaimed king of TikTok, Rodolfo Hernandez.
Some of the key issues dominating the election are the economy, income inequality, corruption and a rapidly degrading security situation, made worse by criminal gangs.
Petro is promising sweeping social and economic reforms, while Hernandez has campaigned on anti-corruption rhetoric and calls to shrink government.
Financial security is the top issue on the minds of many Colombian voters. It's especially important to those made poorer by high inflation. Stefano Pozzebon has more.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Niober Siagama and his extended family, living in two rooms in a cheap hotel in Bogota; at nighttime, 12 people squeezing into two bunk beds and on the floor, sleeping wherever there is some space.
It wasn't always like this. Last year, this group of indigenous people lived in a house in another part of town. But in January, rent became too pricy. They had to leave. Now they must pay for their rooms every night to have a roof over their heads.
POZZEBON (voice-over): And money is very tight.
"Everything got more expensive," says Siagama, who told us he sometimes skips his meal to let his two children eat a little more.
NIOBER SIAGAMA, BOGOTA RESIDENT (through translator): I know I can make it. I have faith in myself and I know with my work I can get through this. But sometimes the system plays against you.
POZZEBON (voice-over): Their situation is not unique. Millions of Colombians are increasingly struggling to make ends meet and food insecurity is on the rise. According to the World Food Programme, Colombia's food prices have increased the most across Latin America since the start of the year, in part as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.
YURITH SUAREZ BUTCHER, BOGOTA RESIDENT (through translator): I'd say it started about five or six months ago that prices have really gone up.
POZZEBON (voice-over): It sounds like a paradox after 10 years of solid economic growth. But three out of five Colombians, responding to a late April poll, said young people will be worse off than their parents. But things are set to change.
POZZEBON: After decades of the same economic recipe, Colombians have voted for change. Two of these raptors (ph) have progressed to the second round of the presidential election on Sunday, each with his own plan to fix the country's economy.
But even within change, throughout different trends, and which one of the two will come up on top?
POZZEBON (voice-over): Left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, is at his third attempt to win the presidency, laying out his proposal in an interview with CNN. He sets his eyes on household income.
GUSTAVO PETRO, COLOMBIA PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): There is a gap between how much the salaries grew -- little -- and how much food prices grew -- a lot. And that has caused rising levels of hunger. And that's where you have the crisis.
POZZEBON (voice-over): Petro plans a radical rethinking of Colombia's economy, doing away with exporting fossil fuels and focusing on food production supported by public spending. That will include renegotiating a free trade agreement with the United States.
His opponent, Rodolfo Hernandez, instead is in favor of free enterprise and lower taxes on basic goods to help everydays (sic) Colombians. Running on a campaign against corruption, he pledges to lead a government of austerity.
RODOLFO HERNANDEZ, COLOMBIA PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I'm going to rule by example. Let's start there, taking away all the
privileges of the politicians that have no justification and are no good to the common people.
POZZEBON (voice-over): The two candidates are neck-and-neck. And Siagama is still undecided. He hopes, however, that whoever prevails will be able to open a new chapter for Colombia.
"What we have now is unbearable," he says -- Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.
BRUNHUBER: Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday in the United States but its significance dates back to the days of Abraham Lincoln. That's next. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Cities around the U.S. are holding parades and festivities all weekend long in honor of Juneteenth. It commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War. It officially takes place on Sunday, as the name is a blend of June and 19th. The celebration in Buffalo, New York, was particularly bittersweet.
Residents there are still grieving from the racist mass shooting just over a month ago.
Last year Juneteenth became the first federal holiday in the U.S. to be approved in nearly 40 years. Fredricka Whitfield has more now on its history and the long road for its national recognition.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Juneteenth is a celebration that marks the end of slavery in the United States. Also known as Emancipation Day, many consider it to be the country's second Independence Day.
It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers, led by this man, General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with orders to inform residents that the Civil War had ended and to tell enslaved African Americans they were finally free.
The message came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. His order was difficult to enforce. So many slaves didn't see freedom until the end of the war.
Many African Americans have marked the anniversary for years. But it was a woman from Texas named Opal Lee, who started a movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Known as the grandmother of Juneteenth, the 95-year old campaigned on the issue for decades. She even held a 2.5-mile march each year to commemorate the 2.5 years it took for slaves in Texas to learn they were free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPAL LEE, GRANDMOTHER OF JUNETEENTH: Please, please continue the kinds of things that you know we need to become one people here. It's not a white thing, it's not a Black thing. It's an American thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD (voice-over): In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday. By 2019, 47 states and the District of Columbia followed suit. Last year, President Joe Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday, a dream come true for Lee and for so many others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we've come but the distance we have to travel to.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD (voice-over): A historical marker can be seen today in Galveston, Texas, at the site where General Granger and his troops set up their headquarters, announcing the end of slavery.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Today, Americans recognize Juneteenth with parties and gatherings and the day is marked as a celebration of African American freedom and achievement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: I'd scream it from the housetops, that unity is freedom. People have been taught to hate. And if people have been taught to hate, they can be taught to love.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Fredericka Whitfield, CNN.
BRUNHUBER: Viewers here can see special coverage marking the holiday, "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom" begins Sunday night at 8:00 pm Eastern. Join Don Lemon for special coverage before the concert. That starts at 7:00 pm Eastern, only here on CNN.
Before we go, fans of the 1980's movie "Back to the Future" may be rummaging through their attics, searching for old videos after hearing this. A sealed, near-mint condition tape of the classic flick recently sold for $75,000 to a New York-based collector. That's a new record for a VHS sealed videotape.
That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. For viewers in North America "NEW DAY" is next. For our international viewers, stay with us for "LIVING GOLF."