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Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday

Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday
© Greg Nash

White House hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic 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 Lee40-year march: Only one state doesn't recognize Juneteenth Biden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday MORE (D-Texas) and Rep. John CornynJohn CornynThe Senate is where dreams go to die Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill 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.