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Juneteenth

Very cool. And a little bit surprising. But very cool.

As soon as U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee heard that the U.S. Senate had passed legislation on Tuesday making Juneteenth a federal holiday, the Houston Democrat said she began pushing leaders in the House to bring it to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.

The holiday, commemorating the day that the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston finally learned of their freedom — 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — was just days away, and Jackson Lee wanted the bill sent to President Joe Biden for his signature in time to celebrate on Saturday.

“I pressed them to early this morning to be able to say that, whatever mechanism we had, we needed to do it,” she said.

By Wednesday afternoon, Jackson Lee was presiding over the House as it passed a bill making Juneteenth the country’s 11th national holiday.

“What I see here today is racial divide crumbling, being crushed this day, under a momentous vote that brings together people who understand the value of freedom,” Jackson Lee said. “And that is what Juneteenth is all about.”

Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, when the message of freedom was finally delivered on June 19, 1865, in Galveston. It has been a state holiday in Texas since 1979, and most other states eventually followed suit. But it took years for Congress to establish it as a national holiday.

The House voted 415-14 to send a bill to do so to Biden for his signature.

It was a very pleasant surprise to hear that the Juneteenth bill had passed the Senate, but once it did this was clearly a done deal. Long overdue, and a triumph for longtime Texas activist Opal Lee. Kudos to all for getting this done, and yes that does include Sen. John Cornyn for pushing it in the Senate. Daily Kos and Slate have more.

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7 Comments

  1. Lobo says:

    WHAT WE NEED IS (MORE) LOVE

    This holiday is a good thing. Sadly, Loving Day was all but ignored.

    National Loving Day on June 12th commemorates the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia. This decision struck down Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and similar anti-miscegenation laws in more than a dozen other U.S. states.

    https://vadogwood.com/2021/06/12/loving-day-turns-54-historic-ruling-legalized-interracial-marriage/

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Progressive states like Texas already established this as a holiday. Growing up in the north, I had never heard of this until I came to Texas.

    It’s nice that this a holiday (or another anniversary could have been chosen to celebrate the end of slavery and made into a national holiday). However, it really is really bad for the progressive movement contention that systemic racism is worse than ever, and that everything is racism, and so on.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    While I disagree with the de facto pay raise this will cause, by virtue of folks making the same wage but now working one less day, I am glad to see the US finally honor White people for ending an evil practice of African blacks.

    Think about the inhumanity shown by the warlike and feral blacks of Africa, that they would sell their own people. I’d say American blacks should be looking for reparations from the countries in Africa that screwed over their ancestors.

    This Juneteenth, I encourage all black Americans to thank the White people you encounter.

  4. policywonqueria says:

    COST OF NEW COMMEMORATIVE HOLIDAY

    The “de facto pay raise” is not really de facto, but purely a matter of accounting (the relevant units being hours, not dollars). In practice, it should be budget neutral for salaried government workers at least, though they might have to be a little bit more productive on the remaining days they are working.

    In practice (de facto), the impact is going to be de minimis because a quantum of 8 workhours spread out over an entire work-year doesn’t amount to much on a per-workday basis. And the full year is the proper basis for calculation here because the new holiday is annual.

    In any event, the merits of the policy decision to establish this federal holiday – if not holy day – rest in its symbolic value.

    And that value is priceless.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Wolf,

    “….though they might have to be a little bit more productive on the remaining days they are working.”

    Two thoughts:

    1) Dare to dream.

    2) If they can be more productive, why aren’t they at that level now? We’re breeding a society of lazy slugs.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    COST OF NEW COMMEMORATIVE HOLIDAY: THE LIVES OF AMERICAN CITIZENS

    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/over-300-cases-heart-issue-after-covid-vaccination-reported-young-n1271200

    “More than 300 cases of heart inflammation after Covid-19 vaccinations have been reported in young people, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.

    “The case are rare,” she said. “Over 20 million adolescents and young adults [have been] vaccinated in the United States.”

    Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

    Still, the cases of either myocarditis or pericarditis, which involve inflammation of the heart or the surrounding tissue, are higher than what would be expected for this age group.

    The CDC’s independent advisory group, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, will meet next week to review the cases. The meeting was originally scheduled for Friday, but was rescheduled late Thursday after President Joe Biden signed a bill into law declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, it will be observed on Friday, June 18….”

    “I mean, so what if more kids die, at least we all had a nice Juneteenth where we got paid but didn’t work, amirite, y’all?”

    ~CDC staffers

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    I think that Juneteenth is a fine idea, and the end of slavery should be commemorated as a holiday, whether it is Juneteenth or the date of the Emancipation Proclamation or some other important anniversary.

    While Africans did sell other Africans to European slave traders, the Europeans, from Portugal and Spain, I believe, first went to Africa and took slaves as captives, and Africans began taking other Africans captive. So the Latinx of Portugal and Spain should share in the blame.

    Like everything else, this part of history is complex and nuanced. Further, reducing everyone to continentals is facile and inaccurate. European, Asian, African–these groupings each contain multitudes of nations, tribes, religions, traditions, and other sub groups, many of which don’t get along. Although Joe Biden did say that all Black people, with a few notable exceptions, are all the same.

    History, as they say, is written by the victors. Which is why the Confederacy, after winning the Civil War, spread the myth that the war was about “states’ rights” and not slavery, and put up all of their Confederate statues.