On Tuesday social media was ablaze with the news that after a long, hard-fought battle, a path had finally been made to observe Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
Over the years several similar bills were drafted in order to give June 19 its rightful place on the federal calendar, where Black communities across the United States held the date in reverence, marking Freedom Day, a moment where slaves in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free, even though slavery had been abolished two years prior in 1863 with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Last year as the killings of Black community members at the hands of police ran rampant across the country, several congressional leaders drafted legislation in order to address the lack of awareness around the holiday.
Texas legislators Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Sen. John Cornyn, and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey led the charge in Congress to sponsor the bill ensuring that Juneteenth would be made a federal holiday.
But like most pieces of legislation that deal with atoning for the horrors of slavery and systemic racism, the bill was met with opposition in the form of Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who sank the bill after arguing that the day off for federal employees would cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Johnson voted for the measure on Tuesday, but cited he only did so because there was no “appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter.”
The bill now heads to the House, where it will most likely secure enough votes to then be signed by President Joe Biden, Black voices on social media sounded off over the measure, which seemed purely performative at best, especially since there has been little effort made to financially compensate the descendants of chattel slavery in the form of reparations.
While honoring Juneteenth, a day of deep reverence to those descendants cannot be denied, the question in response to the news was, “Where are our reparations?”
Black congressional members are laying out a plan of action in order to get the topic of reparations in the forefront, especially one month after the nation commemorated the Tulsa Race Massacre.
A bill sponsored by Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson which seeks to form a committee to study and develop proposals for providing reparations passed the House Judiciary Committee in April but awaits a vote on the House floor.
Jackson told The Hill she hopes the House will take up a vote in the coming weeks.
“We’re still working with everyone, all the parties who have to make decisions, for a vote in June,” she said. “The time spent by the president in Tulsa regarding Greenwood was a very moving experience for all of us. And I couldn’t come away more positive about how we can try to find a good way of compromise to move a bill dealing with repair, and a study — that it’s not offensive to anyone to move it forward.”
Meanwhile, on social media, points were made on Twitter in response to the bill’s passage in the Senate…