Professor Howard believes actions in Congress would make June recess more than symbolic
An activist from Howard University in DC said naming Juneteenth as a federal holiday is no small step, but congressional action to right wrongs against millions speaks louder.
An activist from Howard University in DC is hopeful that Juneteenth, as a federal holiday, will demand that everyone recognize that the United States has unjustly enslaved people of African descent and prospered under the system of slavery based on movable property.
Congress approved a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday on Wednesday following a 415-14 vote by the House. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it.
Ravi Perry, president of the political science department at Howard University, is not sure whether the recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is a “time of celebration.”
“The holidays are definitely something to recognize; it’s not an insignificant step, ”said Perry. “But it’s important, I think, to recognize that no black person asked for a vacation on June 17th.”
June 19 marks the date – June 19, 1865 – on which all enslaved blacks in the United States learned they were free – more than two years after the publication of the Emancipation Proclamation.
What people have asked of their government, Perry said, is that people of African descent be treated with equal protection under the law, as required by the 14th Amendment.
“We have struggled to apply the ideals of our democratic foundation of life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness to everyone,” said Perry.
Perry is an activist researcher specializing in black politics, minority representation, LGBT politics, civil rights, social movements, and urban politics.
He notes that some people who support the Juneteenth holiday are also against what is called critical race theory and ethnic studies in public education.
“To make sure that the people in our schools learn about the history of Juneteenth and the people who of course have been affected over the generations because of the original sin of America’s slavery,” said Perry .
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Critical Race Theory as an “intellectual movement and a loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural and biologically grounded characteristic of subgroups of human beings. physically distinct, but a socially constructed category used to oppress and exploit people of color.
Perry said he found it ironic that the Senate unanimously passed a federal holiday that no black organization has requested, when so many senators do not support statehood for DC or whatever. he calls it John Lewis Law or For The People Law.
“If Juneteenth were a day rightfully commemorated to reflect on our country’s horrific slavery past, then we would see evidence in the behavior of the actions of lawmakers in Congress who support the designation of a token federal holiday,” he said. Perry said.
He said the new federal holiday does not provide substantial redress for the wrongs to the millions of people he will now commemorate.
“We always have a Columbus Day holiday on the calendar, and Columbus was a fraud that didn’t find out about America at all,” Perry said, while noting that some states and people of Indigenous descent have created opportunities for that day, instead, to honor Native Americans.
“And this holiday hasn’t necessarily changed people’s attitudes about how they feel about the founding of the country,” Perry said.
As a paid federal holiday, federal workers will be off on June 19, or the nearest Friday or Monday.
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