Make Juneteenth a National Holiday?

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine)  – June 19 – the day that ended slavery in 1865 – could become a new holiday called Juneteenth. However, it’s not really clear that Democrats want to put it to a vote. There are already 60 co-sponsors in the Senate who would be willing to establish June 19 as a national holiday, and this includes 18 Republicans. This bill could “overcome a filibuster and become a law.”

There have been no plans announced by the Democrats to put this to a vote, and June 19 is this Saturday. It seems that the Democrats have many other priorities and cannot take time on the Senate floor for a vote.

House and Senate lawmakers have for many years commemorated June 19 as the day on which slavery was put to an end. It was on June 19, 1865, that the “Union Army finally reached Galveston, Texas, and belatedly announced that enslaved people were free. African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth ever since.”

With the killing of George Floyd last year, Congress has gained the momentum to make Juneteenth into a federal holiday. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) suggested that a bill be established that would declare Juneteenth a federal holiday. This would be better than a bill that simply commemorated Juneteenth.

Jackson Lee told Huffington Post last year, “These past years of constant evidence of disparities in the African American community shows that the stain of slavery has not ended.”

President Joe Biden seemed not to take a real stance on whether Juneteenth should be a national holiday or not; however, Biden told Essence Magazine that June 19 is a “day of profound weight and power – a holiday whose very existence tells us so much about the soul of America.” Biden went on to remind Americans of “our incredible capacity to heal, to hope, and to emerge from our darkest moments of cruelty into a better version of ourselves.”

Juneteenth is already recognized in some way in many states.  Even in the private sector, it is becoming more recognized. With the surging headlines last year of “Black Lives Matter,” some employers are giving their employees the day off. Huffington Post was told by “Nike, Best Buy, Target, and J.C. Penney” that their workers will have the day off, now and in the future.

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