Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Despite Push, US states slow to make Juneteenth a paid vacation

Recognition of Juneteenth, the effective end of slavery in the US, took off after the police assassination of George Floyd in 2020. But after an initial outburst of action, the movement to get it recognized as an official holiday in the states, largely stopped.

Although almost every state recognized Juneteenth in some way, many were reluctant to do more than issue proclamations or resolutions, even if some continued to commemorate the Confederacy.

Lawmakers in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and other states have not made proposals this year that would have closed state offices and given most of their public employees paid time for the June 19 holiday.

This trend is angering black leaders and community organizers who consider making Juneteenth a paid vacation the minimum government officials can do to help honor a part of American history that is often overlooked and ignored.

“Juneteenth is the date of great significance in American history. It represents the ways in which freedom for Black people has been delayed,” said Democratic Representative Anthony Nolan, who is Black, while pleading for Juneteenth a paid vacation in Connecticut to make on the house floor. “And if we put it off, it’s a slap in the face for black people.”

Pamela Junior, Director Of The Two Mississippi Museums, Talks About The Historical Roots Of Juneteenth While Standing In Front Of One Of The Exhibits At The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, June 16, 2022, In Jackson.

Pamela Junior, director of The Two Mississippi Museums, talks about the historical roots of Juneteenth while standing in front of one of the exhibits at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, June 16, 2022, in Jackson.

Juneteenth commemorates when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to addicted Black people in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, two months after the Confederacy surrendered in the Civil War and freed slaves in Southern states about 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Officially recognized in 2021

Last year, Congress and President Joe Biden moved quickly to make Juneteenth a national holiday. It was the first time the federal government had designated a new national holiday since Martin Luther approved King Jr. Day in 1983. Yet the move did not lead to an automatic adoption by most states.

In Alabama, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey issued another proclamation this week making Juneteenth a state holiday after state lawmakers refused to act on a bill during their legislative session, even after expressing strong support for it in 2021. ‘ to make a permanent holiday. The state closes for Confederate Memorial Day in April.

Similarly, Wyoming Republican Gov. Mark Gordon issued a statement last June saying he would work with lawmakers to make it a state holiday, but no legislation was tabled during the 2022 session.

In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Lee has quietly put in enough funding – about $ 700,000 – to make Juneteenth a state-paid vacation in his initial spending plan for the coming year. The bill did gain ground in the state Senate, but IDP legislators insisted there was not enough support for the idea, even as Tennessee law currently designates special celebrations for Robert E. Lee Day, Confederate Decoration Day, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.

“I’ve asked a lot of people in my district in the last few days, more than 100 people, if they know what Juneteenth is and only two of them knew,” said Republican Senator Joey Hensley, who is white and voted against the proposal. . “I just think we’re putting the car in front of the horse making a holiday that people do not know about.”

In South Carolina, instead of working to approve Juneteenth as a holiday, Senate lawmakers unanimously introduced a bill that would allow state employees to choose any day they want to take off instead of the Confederate Memorial Day. currently as a paid holiday enshrined in state law. However, the House sent the bill to a committee, where it died without a hearing when the Legislature adjourned for the session.

At the same time, many of these Republican-led areas have bills that restrict what can be learned about systematic racism in classrooms, while also sharpening proposals aimed at expanding suffrage and police reform.

During A Ceremony In Front Of The Replica Amistad Slave Ship, The Governor Of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, Speaks On June 10, 2022 In New London, Connecticut, Before Signing A Copy Of Legislation Introducing A New Legal State Holiday On June 19 To Announce To Be.  As June Independence Day.

During a ceremony in front of the replica Amistad slave ship, the Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, speaks on June 10, 2022 in New London, Connecticut, before signing a copy of legislation introducing a new legal state holiday on June 19 to announce to be. as June Independence Day.

Six recent adoptions

This year, nearly 20 states are expected to close government offices and give most of their public employees time. At least six states have officially adopted the holiday in the past few months, including Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, South Dakota, Utah and Washington. A bill passed in California passed the House and moved to the Senate this month, and individual cities like Los Angeles have already signed proclamations making Juneteenth official.

“Becoming a state holiday will not only give employees a day off, it will also give residents a day to think about the future we want, while remembering the inequalities of the past,” the Democratic delegate Andrea Harrison, who sponsored the Juneteenth legislation, said. this year in Maryland. “It will help us reflect on how far we have come as a nation, how much more we as human beings need to do.”

Attempts to give Juneteenth the same esteem as Memorial Day of July Fourth only began to increase in 2020, when protests sparked a nationwide effort to address race following the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the deaths of other black people by the police officers.

“George Floyd protests against police brutality brought awareness to Juneteenth as there were people of all races learning for the first time about its importance after a public effort to educate themselves and learn more about Black history, culture and injustice. learn, “said Tremaine Jasper. a resident and business owner in Phoenix who attended Juneteenth celebrations across Arizona with his family.

File - Jasmine Kingi, Left, 26, And Robin Renee Green, 26, Both Of Los Angeles, Celebrate While Attending A Car Parade In Celebration Of Juneteenth, On June 19, 2021, In Inglewood, California.  Juneteenth Commemorates Us Effective End To Slavery

FILE – Jasmine Kingi, left, 26, and Robin Renee Green, 26, both of Los Angeles, celebrate while attending a car parade in celebration of Juneteenth, on June 19, 2021, in Inglewood, California. Juneteenth commemorates US effective end to slavery

Some Arizona cities, including Phoenix, have declared Juneteenth an official holiday, paying city workers and closing municipal buildings. However, legislators are not currently considering state-wide recognition.

“There are so many other important issues we need to address – education, political issues, repairs – before we prioritize making Juneteenth a nationwide holiday,” Jasper said, noting that those who want to celebrate it know where to go.

Jasper, who was born and raised in Arizona, said it was going to be an “uphill battle” to get the state to recognize Juneteenth because there is not a large enough black population outside its major cities to put pressure on .

Arizona was also slow to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and did so only in 1992. It was one of the last states to officially recognize the civil rights leader.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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