Today, June 19, 2020, is Juneteenth Day
Should it be a National Holiday?
Juneteenth is a day celebrated nationally, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Although slavery officially ended in the United States with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, some slaves in the South did not know that they had been freed until June 19, 1865, which has become known as Juneteenth Day.
Formerly known as Jubilee Day, today the day is commonly known as Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is a holiday in some states, but not a national holiday.
Today, a number of US Senators on both sides of the aisle have announced that they will introduce, or have actually introduced a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Until this morning, I was unaware that there was such a move. When I heard the news this morning, I had mixed emotions about it. I always feel that we have enough Federal Holidays and another one is not needed. I really don’t have anything against the day, in fact, I celebrate the things that Juneteenth stands for. But, a national holiday?
Upon reflection, my feelings solidified
I thought about this for several hours this morning. Right now we are going through some racially charged times. There is a lot of unrest, and it all centers on racial issues. These kinds of issues pop up into the forefront every few years, it seems. Isn’t it time we all reconcile and put these issues to rest?
The more I thought about this, the more that I felt myself coming down on the side of making Juneteenth a national holiday.
Why should Juneteenth be a national holiday?
I feel that there are several reasons.
- It would give African-American citizens pride.
- It could also give Caucasian American citizens pride.
- It would be unifying if done correctly.
Give African-Americans Pride
I think, at least to me, it is obvious that it the African-American community would feel pride if Juneteenth were to become a national holiday.
I feel that African-Americans are very proud of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and rightly so. Having Juneteenth as a holiday would give their community another chance to have pride and show off their culture to the rest of the country, in indeed the world.
Give Caucasian Americans Pride
This is much more counter-intuitive than my previous point.
You may be thinking, why would Caucasians be proud of Juneteenth?
To me, the reason is obvious. The vast majority of Americans who fought in the Civil War were white people. There were some blacks, but the numbers were small. For a white person who has an ancestor who fought for the Union in the Civil War, and can say that “great-granddaddy helped free the slaves” there would be great pride in that. For some, they could say that “great-granddaddy gave his life in an effort to free the slaves” and that statement would be very meaningful, and pride-filled.
So, there are a lot of white people who truly could join our black brothers in being proud of a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Why not?
For those in the past two examples, I believe that a day of reflection on a national holiday would be very unifying. Both of those groups had a part in the end result. It is something they should all be very happy about, and prideful.
Yes, there are some who would not be proud or would be wrongfully proud. Ancestors of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. Other people who are anti-Black. But, I feel that as more generations pass, those people are starting to come around too.
Frankly, we are at a point in history where we need to be United, not Divided. We need to come together with our brothers and sisters of every race.
I think that making Juneteenth Day a national holiday would be a good step in that direction. It should be passed by both houses unanimously.
Let’s do it.