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Juneteenth federal holiday: who voted for and against?

The newest federal holiday in the calendar has is now in its third year and was voted through Congress nearly unanimously, save 14 Republicans.

Las discusiones sobre un posible reemplazo de Joe Biden como candidato demócrata continúan. ¿Qué pasaría si se retira de la carrera?
Leah MillisREUTERS

The United States celebrates the 4th of July to mark its Declaration of Independence for British rule. However, the freedoms hard won during the War of Independence were not granted to all when hostilities ended.

The United States fought another war a century later that pitted brother against brother, on side to abolish slavery, the other to defend it. The Civil War finished with the Union ending slavery in the US.

The date that the last slaves in Texas learned that they were free, 19 June, was made a federal holiday in 2021.

Juneteenth vote saw 14 Republicans against

The bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by the US House of Representatives after a unanimous vote in the Senate, marks the day in 1865 when Union Major General Gordon Granger informed a group of enslaved people in Texas that they had been made free two years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War.

“Juneteenth marks both a long hard night of slavery subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come,” Biden said. He said the day is a reminder of the “terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.”

“Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments...they embrace them.”

Not everyone was in favor, however, as 14 House Representatives voted against the Juneteenth bill.

  • Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona
  • Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama
  • Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee
  • Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona
  • Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California
  • Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky
  • Rep. Tom McClintock of California
  • Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina
  • Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama
  • Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana
  • Rep. Chip Roy of Texas
  • Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin

Three years on, and with an election getting closer and closer, there are concerns that not enough has been done to deal with issues black Americans face.

“It’s important to commemorate emancipation and to encourage everyday Americans to reckon with the history of slavery ... but there is always a danger with these sort of things so they can be performative,” said Matthew Delmont, a professor of history at Dartmouth College who specializes in African-American history and civil rights.

Designating Juneteenth a federal holiday will be a “failure” if it just acknowledges the date without spurring action on issues such as police brutality, voting rights, and the racial wealth gap, Delmont continued.