Slavery is "America's original sin," U.S. President Joe Biden said on Saturday in a statement.
"More than 400 years ago, twenty enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to the shores of what would become the United States," the statement said. "Millions more were stolen and sold in the centuries that followed, part of a system of slavery that is America's original sin."
The White House issued the statement to recognize efforts to designate Aug. 20 as Slavery Remembrance Day in the United States.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Al Green introduced a joint resolution last year to establish Slavery Remembrance Day.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, millions of people were kidnapped from Africa and forced into slavery in the American colonies to produce cash crops such as tobacco and cotton.
By the mid-19th century, an entangling of the Westward Expansion and an abolition movement in the United States provoked fierce debates over slavery that would divide the nation in the bloody Civil War.
Though the Union victory freed millions of enslaved people across America, the negative legacy of slavery has continued to exist, including in the form of racism and discrimination, which remain severe today.