Happy Juneteenth!

Today is Juneteenth, our newest national holiday. Or to be more precise, today is June 19th, the annual date around which the national holiday will be celebrated in the future. But since June 19th falls on a Saturday this year, the new holiday was recognized yesterday. In future years, Juneteenth will be officially observed on the Friday or Monday that falls closest to June 19th. (This Spirited Reasoner is not quite sure what will happen when it falls on a Wednesday.)

The vote in the House of Representatives was 415 in favor of the bill, 14 opposed. Among the 14 representatives opposing the bill was a Texan by the name of Ronny Jackson. He has been quoted as saying he didn’t think this new federal holiday “rises to the level.” See, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/16/juneteenth-house-vote-bill-make-june-19-federal-holiday/7713301002/

Spirited Reasoners find it hard to imagine a cause more worthy for a nation founded on liberty and justice for all than celebrating the abolition of the legal sanction underpinning the practice of human slavery in the United States.

Another Texas representative by the name of Chip Roy had the following to say: “I could not vote for this bill . . . because the holiday should not be called ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day’ but rather, ‘Juneteenth National Emancipation (or Freedom or otherwise) Day.’  This name needlessly divides our nation on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one’s skin.” See, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/16/who-14-republicans-who-voted-against-juneteenth-holiday/7722634002/  

Perhaps Rep. Roy needs a history lesson. Those who happened to be serving as slaves on July 4, 1776, were not granted independence on that date by their (mostly southern) owners. So, yes Mr. Roy, our nation unfortunately needed two independence days rather than one before we could finally declare freedom for all of our people. And no, Mr. Roy, Juneteenth does not divide any groups who are happy about the final abolition of slavery.

Spirited Reasoners find it more than merely coincidental that those most vocal in their opposition to the new holiday happen to represent districts in a state where the last vestiges of Southern slavery finally came to an end on June 19, 1865.