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Juneteenth federal holiday: who voted for and against?

Last year, the Senate made Juneteeth an official holiday, but a numver of senators voted against the commemoration of the end of slavery in the US.

Last year, the Senate made Juneteeth an official holiday, but a numver of senators voted against the commemoration of the end of slavery in the US.

In 2021, US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed a bill into law to make 19 June, known as ‘Juneteenth’, a federal holiday commemorating the end of the legal enslavement of Black Americans.

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 a Union general 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.”

Biden said “great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments...they embrace them.” He spoke in a room filled with about 80 members of Congress, local elected officials, community leaders and activists such as Opal Lee, who campaigned to make Juneteenth a holiday.

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

One year on, the Democrats are yet to seriously push back against Republican attempts to restrict voting in the US. These plans are disproportionately affecting black voters.

“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 said.

Juneteenth becomes 11th federal holiday

The law came a year after the United States was rocked by protests against racism and policing following the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a Minneapolis police officer.

Juneteenth is the eleventh federally recognized holiday, joining a list that includes Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Independence Day, as well as days honoring presidents and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Inauguration day, when the US president is sworn in, is also a federal holiday every four years.


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