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For 23 years, members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network have promoted the soft-spoken dignity and low-key benefits of the Juneteenth commemoration of emancipation.
Then, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, woke corporations and pandering politicians latched onto it as a political tool. Now it’s a national holiday that most people didn’t know anything about a few years ago. And few still truly understand it.
A Daily Caller commentary by Project 21 Director of Membership Development Donna Jackson questions the decision to make Juneteenth a federal holiday on the level of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.
As of 2020, 47 states recognized the June 19 anniversary of slaves in Galveston, Texas learning about the end of the Civil War and their freedom. What was once a Texas tradition has branched out over the years into community events held across America. But, as Donna explains:
In 2020, woke leaders decided they wanted to celebrate Juneteenth too, especially after the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter uprisings. Companies wanting to “do something” tweeted recognition of it, and some even gave employees the day off. Politicians took the cue and did them one better – making virtually everything closed for Juneteenth. The Senate passed the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” on June 15, 2021. The House passed it on June 16, and the president signed it on June 17.
And the way the Juneteeth holiday has come about is problematic:
The first Juneteenth as a federal holiday was recognized on June 18. Why not June 19? In 2021, the actual day fell on a Saturday – so the day off was moved to Friday. Hence the first reason why this new honor is dubious. This year, June 19 falls on a Sunday and will be observed on the 20th. So, in its first two years, the nation’s opportunity to recognize the solemn anniversary of emancipation ran up against labor rules and virtue-signaling.
Then there is the factor of how this holiday is honored. The law created a Juneteenth National Independence Day. Only a few lawmakers voted against it, but not because they didn’t want to recognize emancipation. Representative Thomas Massie warned that “naming this day ‘National Independence Day’ will create confusion and push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity.”
There are, in fact, people who are now saying that “Juneteenth is my Independence Day.”
“Juneteenth is a cause for celebration and forgiveness – not separatism and anger,” Donna writes. “But, as always happens when Big Government gets involved, the results end up disappointing. Celebrate emancipation locally, mindful of its roots in the pursuit of opportunity and exceptionalism.”
All of Donna’s commentary – “Celebrate Juneteenth For What It Really Is” – can be read at the Daily Caller by clicking here.
Author: David Almasi