Group of Democratic senators to propose making Juneteenth national holiday

Greg Nash

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Senate Democrats will introduce a measure making Juneteenth a national holiday, the same day Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced he will advance a similar measure.

“Together with my colleagues Cory Booker, Tina Smith and Ed Markey, 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.

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 Cuomo (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.

Tags Andrew Cuomo anti-lynching legislation Black Lives Matter Movement Cory Booker Ed Markey Emancipation Proclamation John Cornyn Juneteenth police brutality Tina Smith

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