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This is an editorial piece.

June 19 has for years been celebrated by many as the anniversary of the official end to slavery in the U.S. 

In 1865, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Major Gen. Gordon Granger marched his Union troops to Galveston, Texas, to tell the people there the Civil War was over and all slaves were now free. Thus, the first Juneteenth celebration in Texas has since spread elsewhere around the country and, as of this Thursday, it’s now an official federal holiday.

To the consternation of many, 14 House Republicans, including Alabama’s own Mo Brooks and Mike Rogers, voted against a bill that formalized the anniversary. Shocking to some, less so to others, many have wondered why would anyone vote against this bill unless they were, in fact, racist? 

If you possess any media savvy, you should know there’s always more to the story. As ethnically charged and obsessed as our culture is today, nothing involving race, no matter how innocent or positive it might seem, is ever that simple.

One of the main sticking points for the dissenters had to do with the new official holiday name, “Juneteenth National Independence Day.” The issue there should be obvious. We already have an Independence Day — July 4, 1776 — one that every American can and should celebrate with pride and patriotism. Having another “independence day” might contravene the stated goal of unity, some said.

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, who voted against the bill, said, “I fully support creating a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery... However, naming this day National Independence Day will create confusion and push Americans to pick one of those two days as their Independence Day based on their racial identity.”

Congressman Brooks made another point saying June 19, 1865, might be more a day for Texas, and that a different date, like the end of the Civil War or the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, would be a better choice for a national commemoration. (Interesting to note two Texas congressmen also voted against the bill).

Aside from the 14 “no” votes, the bill had overwhelming bipartisan support, which isn’t at all surprising. Wouldn’t you vote yourself another paid day off if you could? 

Regardless of the politics and agendas surely tied up in passing this bill, we should all be able to agree that the end of slavery is something to be celebrated and remembered no matter what day we choose to do it on.

Our View On the Issue is an opinion of The Reporter’s editorial board.

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