Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday

Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday
© Greg Nash

White House hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNevada Democratic debate draws record-breaking 19.7 million viewers 'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate Ocasio-Cortez defends Warren against 'misogynist trope' 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 LeeWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber No experience required: US hiring immigration judges who don't have any immigration law experience Trump administration restricts travel from Nigeria and five other countries MORE (D-Texas) and Rep. John CornynJohn CornynTrump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan warnings Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs 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.