Obama: 'A lot of barriers still exist' as Juneteenth officially recognized

Plus, how white supremacy played a role in keeping the holiday from being celebrated nationwide for so long.
9:45 | 06/18/21

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Transcript for Obama: 'A lot of barriers still exist' as Juneteenth officially recognized
Today marks the first federal holiday signed into law since Martin Luther King Jr. day in 1983. Most federal workers are off today in recognition of June teens tomorrow. The holiday has been celebrated by African Americans since the civil war error commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. But the US is now officially declared a holiday for all Americans. Ahead of June teens are Michael Strahan talked to former president Barack Obama about the holiday. And race relations in this country as part of ABC's June 18 special take a look. For the bit Obama had. Be June T it is good to see your heritage or interfere thank you remember being in mid school. And they had all the president's. They had every president out there and you look at that list that you would say and not want to be president but I don't think you could believe that. Now. When they look at year face in the new. And a lot of people will look good say it's signify since you've been elected president that that we moved on an issue of race. What you stated that. Oh I think that's never been the case. Mark virtual Meyer election some are we ever been to a post racial world it wasn't something I believed. At the time and I certainly don't believe it now the fact is that a lot of Beers still exist for a whole lot of folks if when you look at that list of presidents. We still haven't seen it warm. And at the notion that women. Somehow are not qualified the truth that it you know the fact is at least in my household. The women are smarter. More insightful more care and better looking. Well we balance that we monitor we live in the same house that's that's my foreclose so so something's happening in our society the prevents. Them from ascending to the highest office in the land. The same is true for African Americans the same is true for Latinos and the first Americans native Americans. The odds are stacked. In ways that. Prevent a lot of young people. From realizing their potential and we can do something about it. In the promised land he talk about hope. The country is built on hope it's. Nice to hear that malicious room militant civil rights workers room you ran on hope. There are choosing hope. Overridden. Powerful message. That changes coming to America. And Ridnour and twenty when he wanted to and we have the Penn did make the insurrection. Racial reckoning. What people for what they've lost hope and how help can people get that hope back. You didn't hold back from for me at least taken the long view and recognizing that. Resilience. Determination. You build its deal with setbacks and disappointments cents cheaper going. The that those are qualities that. Can carry us forward and and no one has exhibited that more. Historically in this country. African Americans. The march on Washington and happened during my lifetime that's not ancient history. In big parts of the country it segregation whom what still operative. When I was alive. What seems. To light stuff we now take for granted. As just a generation old. Just so many people out there who idea the American dream they can't. And visualize things get seated who worked so what did it take for people to be able to realize it's the American dream it's well. Look at it historically. And the American dream has been. A reality for some and a meth for others. More in a community Erik Oster. Some in Washington DC that's representative a lot of commanders around the country where. The kids who broker may formally be free. But are structurally. Because. Poverty because of schools that are worker because of sub standard housing and it requires so much more effort. For them to live. That American dream and so our job is to make sure that. It's not a man. And right now for two minutes to listen. I'm Michael Strahan and in Washington DC yeah. Thanks Michael for that interior let's go to LA times columnist ABC news contributor LV granderson followed up more on this. I'll be happy June team to you first saw. Jews room remains. Remark for all Americans now are all celebrating June 18 today tomorrow the whole weekend raid. There are asking president Biden's signs June 18 into law yesterday during a large ceremony. Did vice president was there by his side other lawmakers were there as well but he also had old bullied by his side helping how big. Was that moment. There was tremendous because. Americans. Do not know what did not know who she was what she did. Mission marks in this calls organized justice should be able to acknowledge harbor just was not necessarily something that was darn solely by. Officials. Like immediately credible solution so good. History's better started from the ground. Grassroots leaders like his old Louise Horton necessary in order to get more Cindy's she's written. And you think is the first federal holiday sign into law since Martin Luther King Jr. day. Forty years ago why do you think it took so long for this to have been. And for so many this country take even learned what June teens is. What surprises. I mean there's no all the rage disorder or high you know. Great to some better than what this does not answer soon she wasn't. Almost certainly in the black community we celebrated at certain state of Texas they knew the history hunt so let's use what was. Just for girls who benefited from this information being shared heart since they're essential world. Blue ridge line is that. Those countries. There's so many other cities all whole experience people ripping. Raised price didn't kill her resist people. So when you ask you know what I do so many people know all options seem. Will simply say it's the same reasons why you see today Hebrew tribe who cares right chambers exist in normal lives. As a wall like growing up celebrating this holiday knowing so many people don't even know what it was and how do you hope that changes going forward. Opens I remember changing. Detroit news celebrations concerns we have celebrations and do work lessons taught in my classroom. Fortunes are being an advance schools home which makes sure that those gaps there. In my school's library tonight my privileged and Barack and I'm grateful for. Our history and not a conservative dark lord Jesus. Today we have GQ the federal holidays notice talk. The bills are home. Slave owners will form mostly older were already receiving compensation or reparations. Slaves. Reports mentioning the beauty compensation. For slavery. Texans were still enslaved. What are you didn't that is what. As surgeons we need. Oh he's the legislation better still problems of days ago. Inform their predecessors. And don't criticisms are doing all. Predecessors and he eventually went to Harrison sir gone that is horn who did you defeated and slowing it is. Colorless society. Arresting him we sell over call. And sign him he's a paper that every nice gesture always Sunnis and you don't. Over so well Rea what's appropriate in terms of how to celebrate June 18 and how are you celebrating this year. First of all I can I was actually exist who regularly discussed under his own right now our. Do you see what was happy in my immediate area Scott still puzzled former son Carlos Slim down. Don't know sundown towns were places in America house where afternoon there's no. Peterson been altered out people saw him. Otherwise the customer references to kkk the Germans themselves so yeah sundown to sundown. Shouldn't see what they're doing here synonymous. Not satisfied shall I won't you run hotel. Or are celebrating the a tremendous. Moment I don't want to downplay the potential lenders moment it's a signal. Yeah time will Al Z I'm sure you're gonna find great celebration one way or the other we appreciate coming on and again happy Jane teen to you. Thank you and you as well.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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