Honestly, I think some of the specific points of pushback you’ve gotten in this thread are a bit wrong-headed. But I think your position is even more wrong-headed.
Here’s my perspective (for what little it’s worth):
Congress didn’t decide to create a new holiday ex nihilo, arbitrarily pick June 19th, and then impose it by fiat from on high. Juneteenth is an existing, genuinely grassroots American holiday. It began as a local holiday in Texas, but spread from there. In recent years, it has rapidly become increasingly popular and widespread.
In declaring Juneteenth a Federal holiday, Congress isn’t officially declaring June 19th to be the “end date of chattel slavery in the U.S.” It’s just officially recognizing the existence of an existing and increasingly popular, widespread, and important grassroots American holiday.
I don’t see the controversy. If we agree that an annual celebration of the end of slavery is a good thing, then it seems logical to observe it on the date that the descendants of slaves think is most appropriate. The consensus seems to be that June 19 is the date of choice. If we nitpick dates, then let’s revisit Christmas as the odds are Jesus was not born 12/25.
And adding a holiday celebrating the end of slavery to our national roster. That’s an important point, too.
Anyway, I think you have this exactly right. We already have a folk holiday, celebrated by a lot of people and a few states. It makes far more sense to elevate that to a national holiday than to make something up.
And the dates of most holidays are somewhat arbitrary. There were a lot of "Thanksgiving"s, and they picked a convenient date that was in the range of dates. There are lots of events that could have been picked to celebrate the founding of the US. The date of Christmas seems to have been picked by the early Christians to allow newly-converted people to continue to celebrate existing holidays under Christian auspices. There is no one day on which slavery ended. Slavery ended over a period of years, on different dates in different places. This is one such date, and it’s one that has attracted a critical mass of celebrants.
Yay! I’m happy to celebrate Juneteenth, and look forward to seeing what celebratory customs spill into my corner of society. Personally, I’m throwing a dance in my backyard that day. I mean, it’s really an “end of the worst of covid” celebration, but I forethoughtfully invited folks to my “Juneteenth” dance when I sent out the invitations two week ago. I think it will be really neat if we can also celebrate the first federal Juneteenth.
I asked myself why so many Republicans voted for this, without (much) pushback or even debate. Then I realized it’s an easy way for them to say, “See, we’re not racist!”
Making a day a holiday doesn’t change a single iota of discriminatory policy or require any of their White constituents to do or even think anything different. So what the hell, vote “aye” and smile for the picture.
Modding: Tone it down please. It is a matter of history that June 19 was not the date that slavery ended in the US, but it is a date that has been widely celebrated by the black community and the rest of us should run with that. The argument about the date is a senseless hijack of what should be a cause for celebration.
First, it started as a Texas holiday. In fact, as a local Galveston holiday(*) before it extended out to the rest of the state. And it’s been a Texas state holiday for 41 years, FWIW.
But the rest of the country never really had any kind of holiday celebrating the end of slavery, so over time Juneteenth has more or less been adopted by the African-American community to serve in that role in lieu of some other date. It’s nicely symbolic, a warm weather holiday (who the hell wants to have a celebration on December 18th, a week before Christmas anyway?) and is already something that’s widely celebrated among African-Americans. What’s not to like about it being a national holiday?
That’s a historical quirk; the US had Memorial Day in May long before WWI, which is what generated Armistice Day in Europe (Nov 11), so we basically joined in the post-WWI party by making Nov 11 Veteran’s day, rather than try to switch around a half-century of existing tradition.
Exactly. Making Juneteenth a holiday, while at the same time, continuing the GOP push to make the ballot harder to access for people of color, and doing nothing to hold police accountable when they overreact with violence towards people of color.
Then I guess you’ll start advocating celebrating July 2nd as Independence Day as that’s the day the document was signed – and the day Jefferson expected it would be celebrated. The 4th was the day it was announced to the public.
Or how about October 19th, the day Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown?
Or September 3rd, when the treaty of Paris was signed?
As a longtime fed employee, I’ll happily take off as many days as they give me, but I wonder if there will ever be a maximum as to how many fed holidays there are? Maybe if Congress adds a new one, they have to eliminate an old one…. Maybe combine Vet’s w/ Memorial? Or elim Columb (unless renamed for indigenous). Or add Juneteenth and cut MLK?
Dammit. I need to look up things I “know.” The 2nd was the day it was voted upon, the 3rd was the day Adams (not Jefferson) wrote his wife, declaring, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” and the 4th was the day the final wording was approved.
The signing of the engrossed copy – the one we are all familiar with, was a long process lasting as late as September.
And with added irony, schoolteachers who explain why it’s a holiday risk falling afoul of the ban on critical race theory in some states. We’ve got a holiday, but we can’t tell you why. It’s a double secret holiday.
I think you and I are the only people in this thread who are more concerned with the immediate practical implications of this than with historical dates. Since June 19 is a Saturday this year, if Biden were to sign it into law, I think this means we get Monday (June 21) off?
I kind of agree with UV that a different date would have better historical relevance but you’ve given an eloquent reason why it doesn’t matter much. High schoolers will have momentary confusion when they learn that the amendment was passed in December but that’s about on par with the confusion that Lincoln’s proclamation didn’t really free the slaves.