Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday

Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday
© Greg Nash

White House hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE (I-Vt.) on Wednesday threw his support behind a local activist’s effort to make Juneteenth, the celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., a national holiday.

Sanders praised Opal Lee, a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, who is advocating for the federal government to recognize June 19 as a federal holiday.

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“What Ms. Lee has been doing for much of her life is trying to get the federal government to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, and I think she’s right,” Sanders said in a video posted to Twitter.

“I think that understanding the legacy of slavery, the horrors of slavery, the millions of people who died as a result of slavery, is something that the federal government should acknowledge. So I want to acknowledge Ms. Lee on a lifetime of struggle and I hope in her lifetime we can accomplish her goal.” 

The video ends with Lee saying she appreciates Sanders’s support.

“Generation after generation doesn’t know about Juneteenth and that’s my passion, to make everybody aware of the 19th of June that we were freed,” she said. 

The Vermont senator has already backed legislation from Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeJackson Lee: 'Racism is a national security threat' Most oppose cash reparations for slavery: poll Poll: Most Americans oppose reparations MORE (D-Texas) and Rep. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats press for action on election security On The Money: NY prosecutors subpoena eight years of Trump tax returns | Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms | Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum | Trump faces dwindling leverage with China Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms MORE (R-Texas) that would recognize the day as “Juneteenth Independence Day.” 

Several 2020 Democrats commemorated Juneteenth on Twitter Wednesday, which coincided with a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing on slavery reparations.

Racial justice has become a key issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Several candidates have unveiled a slate of policies to boost funds for small businesses run by entrepreneurs of color and unveiled plans to reduce maternal mortality rates among black mothers.