The Senate Came Together To Unanimously Pass A Bill To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday

Congress has seemed to have been trapped in gridlock for ages. It started during the Obama era, during with then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was open about blocking as much Democratic legislation as he could. And it’s thought to be even worse now, when McConnell has returned to that role, and now has some help from waffling Democrats. But on Tuesday, the entire Senate, at least, came together to pass a bill that will do at least a small amount of good.

According to The New York Times, the government body unanimously passed a bill to turn Juneteenth, aka the 19th of June, into a federal holiday, after it was put on the floor by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Otherwise known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates an important though disturbing date in American history: It’s the day, in 1865, when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas — the most remote of the slave states — and informed still enslaved African-Americans that they’d been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Granger was a little late: The bill had been signed into law almost two-and-a-half years prior.

Over a century and a half later, in 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday. The day earned greater significance this time last year, due to the Black Lives Matter protests that emerged in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was later convicted of the crime.

The bill still has to make its way to the House, though a unanimous vote in the famously split Senate is a harbinger of good news. If/when passed, Juneteenth will be the 11th official federal holiday on the books.

The passing of the bill was met with much rejoicing.

But it was also met with some skepticism. Some thought it was a small measure that will turn the day into one for white people to do the bare minimum.

Some pointed out that Juneteenth was getting federal recognition at the same time that Critical Race Theory was being shut down in Republican states.

There were other issues, too.

Some, though, had some suggestions on how people — particularly people of color — can celebrate the day, which is arriving this Saturday.

(Via NYT)