Juneteenth Should Be a National Holiday

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From yesterday:

In the wake of the nationwide outcry over the killing of George Floyd, bipartisan calls have amplified to name Juneteenth — June 19, which commemorates the end of slavery — a federal holiday. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, teased the bill Thursday night, telling MSNBC, “Together with my colleagues Cory Booker, Tina Smith, and Ed Markey, we are proposing that Juneteenth be a national holiday. And we are dropping that bill saying that Juneteenth should be a national holiday.”

This is a great idea, and the more I hear about it the better it sounds. I’ve heard arguments that Juneteenth is a little bit arbitrary, since it commemorates only the day that Texas finally announced the Emancipation Proclamation, and that instead we should celebrate the passage of the 13th Amendment, which is when slavery in the United States was truly abolished. But this is an argument that, even if it’s offered in good faith, is all head and no heart, yet another example of white people trying to hijack a Black movement. The whole history of Juneteenth is interesting, but the key to it is that Black Americans celebrate it and that’s the day that many of them want to observe.

Beyond that, I like the coincidental placement of Juneteenth shortly before July 4th. Both are important and both are starting points: July 4th is the start of the long road to democracy, which took nearly 200 years to finally reach full enfranchisement; Juneteenth is the start of the long road to Black freedom, which is at 155 years and counting. That gives us a two-week period that commemorates the history of both of these things, which is a far more effective opportunity for education than the current method, which is usually to invite Black writers to write July 4th op-eds about how Independence Day is really Independence for Whites Day. Placing Black writers into this position is unfair to them and unfair to history. Here’s hoping this bill passes the Senate unanimously.

And for CEOs and HR departments who complain that company policy allots only 10 days off and this means getting rid of some other holiday, just suck it up and give your workers 11 days off. It won’t kill you.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

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