Jamaal Bowman calls for Juneteenth to be made a holiday

Jamaal Bowman calls for Juneteenth to be made a holiday
© Facebook: Jamaal Bowman

New York congressional candidate Jamaal Bowman called for Juneteenth to be made a national holiday in the United States, writing in an op-ed Friday that it should be "a day for education." 

Bowman is slated to take on incumbent Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Watchdog: Trump's UK envoy made inappropriate remarks on religion, race, sex Allegations roil progressive insurgent's House bid MORE (D-N.Y.) in the state's primary on Tuesday. A recent poll conducted by the progressive firm Data for Progress showed Bowman leading Engel by 10 points. 

Bowman writes in The Nation that the observance of Juneteenth primarily only by the African American community is "part of a large problem," saying that it allows people to choose not to confront the idea and history of slavery in the U.S.

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"Slavery isn’t something that’s in our distant past; we’re still living with its legacy every single day," the progressive congressional candidate writes.

"Slavery created institutions designed to protect a privileged small elite of white wealthy landowners — affecting everything from public schools to property laws to our tax system. This obviously affected black Americans, but it also affected poor white Americans too." 

Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19, is the anniversary of the day Gen. Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation to formerly enslaved African Americans in Texas, the final state where the 1863 proclamation was read.

The holiday is recognized in every state except Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Hawaii. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are expected to announce measures to make the day a national holiday. 

The holiday has received broad attention this year amid the nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality. 

Bowman argued that the most powerful and influential figures in politics and society have pitted Americans against each other based on their identities, adding that the majority of white Americans view struggles faced by African Americans as their own fault. 

"For the same reason, too many white Americans feel that any government program must benefit an undeserving 'Other,'" Bowman said. "This is why many working and middle-class white Americans support race-baiting politicians who want to cut taxes on the rich and defund public programs that serve millions of white people too."