Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Juneteenth moves into Bill Lamont after emotional House debate

Hartford, Conn. ( Associated Press) — An emotional debate over a new state holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States took place in the Connecticut House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Black legislators talked about the racial intolerance they saw in their lives and the importance of “Juneethane,” or June 19, as a holiday for black people. The bill passed the House 148-1 after clearing the Senate 30-1 the day before, and now goes on the table of Democratic Governor Ned Lamont.

“Yes, this bill is about a holiday, but it is much more than that,” said Representative Anthony Nolan, a Democrat from New London who is black. He said the law represented “delaying freedoms for black people”.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday last summer – The first was created in 1983 after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Like other states, Connecticut’s law honors the day in 1865 when enslaved black people in Texas were freed by the arrival of Confederate troops. It is the latest in a series of bills passed in recent years that seek to address racial inequalities, including a 2021 law Which makes it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their hairstyle.

Some black legislators took issue on Wednesday with comments made by Republican Representative Kimberly Fiorello of Greenwich, who raised concerns about the General Assembly’s “unhealthy” focus on race.

“We talk about education for black kids. There are white kids who need help,” said Fiorella, who is of Asian descent. While Fiorella voted for the bill, calling it “all skin tones.” Holiday for all people”, he said, adding that lawmakers “have to stop, get out of the mindset that inequalities mean discrimination.”

Some black legislators also took issue with Fiorella’s comments that the Constitution counting slaves as three-fifths of a person was actually a step toward ending slavery, voiced by Republicans in other states. opinion raised In recent years. Scholars interviewed by the Associated Press have said they see no evidence that the constitutional provision was meant to end slavery.

Robin Porter, a Democrat from New Haven who is black, said he felt the need to correct the legislative record. He said the Three-Fifth Agreement was the product of negotiations at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 on how to allocate seats in the US House of Representatives and pay taxes based on population.

“There was an ulterior motive. And the fact that black people, men, women, and children were seen as whole individuals, not as whole human beings, but as three-fifths for the purpose of taxation and representation. This is what the three-fifths agreement was implied and based on,” Porter said, as several dozen state legislators gathered in his support.

Porter said she hopes the holiday will help identify black people as “whole people.”

The group of legislators later followed Representative Tony Walker, D-New Haven, who had spoken of growing up as a child in the South during the civil rights movement of the 1950s. She recalled how her father was leading a voter registration drive and KKK members came to her house to threaten her family, burn crosses on her lawn and kill the family dogs.

“We’re hurt,” she said of black people. “It’s so important that we love each other to be apart.”

Rep. Gail Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott cast a lone “no” vote in the House on Wednesday. He called Juneteenth Independence Day “a wonderful thing”, but did not consider it to be a state holiday, noting how state employees would have 16 paid holidays in addition to sick, vacation, and personal days if Lamont law. I sign the bill.

“I mean, what vacation will be paid next?” He asked. “We can come up with many holidays.”

Nation World News Desk
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