Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. How will it matter?
Ten years from now we'll look back and evaluate what the big news means regarding Juneteenth being a federal holiday. The holiday long celebrated by African Americans in the United States recognizes June 19th 1865 when many enslaved people in Texas learn that they have been freed. With the signing of the law by President Joe Biden, the holiday went into effect immediately making Saturday, June 19th 2021 as the 1st Federal Juneteenth holiday in American history.
President Biden said the signing of the law was one of the greatest honors he will have as president. Let's take a look at a little more about history before we delve into the future and what this holiday may mean beyond a day off. June 10th stems from the June 19 1865 date when major general Gordon Granger and Galveston Texas issued general order number three which announced that in accordance with the emancipation proclamation all slaves were free. Months later the 13th amendment was ratified abolishing slavery in the final four border states that had not been subject to President Abraham Lincoln's order.
The bill passed the house and was sent with overwhelming bipartisan support. There were votes against the bill from 14 Republican lawmakers in the house. In site of the law being passed, larger questions now loom with regard to the holiday, especially that it comes on the heels of the debates around critical race theory being taught in schools.
It's underlying position is that the United States was built on a racially unequal and unjust system. The holiday may add more fuel to the debate. This debate continues to rage as proponents seeing simply a driving home their message that the truth should be taught in schools. That truth, scholars say has been hidden or excluded as it relates to the systemic racial oppression that the United States when it was ushered in with slavery. The systems in a post slavery society was further deepened afterwards with crippling Jim Crow laws. Today, many of those remnants continue to be present in economic, political and social inequalities that hamper black progress and help stall the US economy.
The chart above outlines some of the systemic codes that were legalized to keep Black people in dire circumstances for generations. The debate was raised to a higher crescendo with the murder of George Floyd and the inequalities in medical attention with when the covid-19 pandemic devastated black communities more than others.
"Juneteenth commemorates progress for our country and the recognition of another dark chapter of American history that cannot be ignored", said Tony Lesesne of LMG Entertainment. "There are those who don't want to teach the truth about the Tulsa massacre, and even here in Florida they were massacres of entire cities and Ocoee, and rosewood. Most Floridians don't even know about this dark and tragic truth and even further don't know about other crucial elements that negatively impacted black Americans, and native Americans.
To fix this illness that we call racism, we first have to confront the truth and reality. It's like an alcoholic going anonymous. He first must admit that he has a problem in order to address it effectively. America has a problem and there are those who are trying to address it, and there are those who want to hide it and thus this challenge on racial inequality and economic inclusion will continue to plague this nation until it is addressed by all.