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Group of Democratic senators to propose making Juneteenth national holiday

Group of Democratic senators to propose making Juneteenth national holiday
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Senate Democrats will introduce a measure making Juneteenth a national holiday, the same day Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Rick Scott will 'likely' join challenge to election results MORE (R-Texas) announced he will advance a similar measure.

“Together with my colleagues Cory BookerCory BookerNCAA tables name, image and likeness vote after DOJ warns of potential antitrust violations Warren and other senators seek investigation into Trump administration resuming federal executions Cory Booker says he has no plans to propose to Rosario Dawson this Christmas MORE, Tina SmithTina Flint SmithSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls Smith wins reelection in Minnesota Democrats expand Senate map, putting GOP on defense MORE and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyFive centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote David Sirota: Democrats gave away leverage in forcing vote on ,000 checks Sanders to slow down NDAA veto override in bid to get vote on K checks proposal MORE, we are proposing that Juneteenth be a national holiday. And we are dropping that bill saying that Juneteenth should be a national holiday,” Harris told MSNBC's Joy Reid on Thursday, announcing the proposal for the first time.

The holiday, celebrated June 19, marks 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.

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All but three states mark the date as either a holiday or an observance, and both Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoGovernors say no additional vaccine doses coming, despite Trump admin promise Mississippi runs out of coronavirus vaccine as state expands eligibility Cuomo announces performance initiative to revive New York's arts economy MORE (D) announced they would push for the day to be a state holiday this week. 

Cornyn, meanwhile, announced he will also introduce a bill making the day a national holiday Thursday.

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) has introduced corresponding legislation in the House.

“Over the last several weeks, Americans of all races and backgrounds, of all ages, have raised their voice in the fight against inequality and injustice that continues to exist in our society,” Cornyn said in a statement.

“As the list of black men and women killed by police officers in custody grows, the calls for action are getting louder and louder, as they must, and as they should. There is a clear and urgent need for leaders at every level to come together, and to deliver the change that we need to deliver, in order to match up with our ideals,” he said. 

The Hill has reached out to Harris’s office for further details.