The politicians in Congress, many of them facing reelection in 2022, wasted no time in declaring Juneteenth, the day enslaved people in Galveston, TX, learned that they were free, a national holiday. For many, particularly most Republicans, it was the easy way out.
While all but a handful of House Republicans and every GOP senator voted in favor of making June 19th a federal holiday in recognition of this important event, most of them are complicit in a national GOP effort to suppress the vote in ways that are targeted against many Americans, including people of color. They are doing it because of the false, ego-maniacal claims of their leader, the defeated and disgraced Donald J. Trump.
Meanwhile, across the nation, in small towns and large, celebrations were held -- celebrations that were planned long before the Juneteenth holiday bill was passed. But President Biden's signing of that bill on June 17, just made those events all that much more glorious.
In Myrtle Beach, SC, Black school children danced and sang as Elle Graham, and his wife, Juanita, of Raeford, NC, watched, happy despite the persistent rain that failed to dampen their spirits.
"It's important to recognize our history," said Graham. "Our ancestors were slaves and they were freed. This is not fake news; this is real."
"When I seen the Republicans pass it unanimously, I said, 'Man, that's an act of God. Then when I seen the House pass it except 14 people, I said something is going on. You, know, you can suppress the truth for a long time, but you can't suppress it forever. So it's time for the truth to come to the surface, and it did. And Biden signed it."
But, said Graham, "we have a long way to go."
Indeed, we do.
On the day that President Biden signed the Juneteenth holiday bill, Senate Republicans vowed they would prevent voting reform legislation from advancing later this month, rejecting a compromise by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that included some GOP ideas in a bid to break partisan gridlock on the issue. But the assertion by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) means that Republicans will filibuster the bill that Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) is to send to the floor Tuesday.
Parts of the bill are intended to overrule provisions contained numerous GOP-passed state laws that have placed restrictions on early voting, mail-in voting, ballot drop boxes and other policies that make it easier to cast a ballot. Those laws have been enacted in response to former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 presidential election.
“I’ve taken a look at all the new state laws — none of them are designed to suppress the vote,” McConnell said Thursday. “There is no rational basis for the federal government to take over all of American elections.”
That is despicable, but it is typical of McConnell, and typical of today's Republican Party, and it emphasizes the importance of turning aside the GOP's determined effort to retake control of the House and Senate in 2022.
To say there is no room for the federal government in assuring that elections in our country are fair and that everyone has an opportunity to vote, regardless of their status in life, is an abomination.
Not Fake News contributor Stacy Fitzgerald said it well in her piece entitled "Juneteenth Holiday: The Win You Didn't Ask For". She wrote that passing the holiday law was simply the "low hanging fruit."
"We now must shoot for the moon to rectify historic wrongs," Fitzgerald wrote. " And that means securing voting rights, police reform and reparations. We still have much work to do."
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