One GOP lawmaker said he opposes a new federal holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States because the 'intent is to replace the Fourth of July.'
More than a dozen House Republican lawmakers voted against making Juneteenth — which marks the end of slavery in the United States — a federal holiday.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 415-14, with every no vote coming from Republican lawmakers, some of whom said they think the holiday is too divisive to celebrate.
"This legislation is the culmination of decades of efforts by the Left to prevent unashamed celebrations of our national story, heritage, and history," Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) tweeted, boasting of the fact that he was one of just 14 people to vote against the holiday. "Their intent is to replace the Fourth of July with this new day, one that will inevitably focus on America's darkest moments."
Juneteenth does not replace the Fourth of July. That remains a holiday to celebrate American independence from Britain.
What's more, Juneteenth is not celebrating a "dark" moment. Indeed, it's a joyous celebration that marks the end of the country's dark chapter of slavery.
It was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, when slaves there were finally told they were free — two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation granting their freedom had been signed, on Jan. 1, 1863.
Traditionally, many who celebrate the holiday have backyard barbecues, and some cities and towns hold parades and festivals.
The day has been designated as a state holiday in Texas since 1980. Currently, the number of states who recognize the day as a holiday totals 45. President Joe Biden has scheduled to sign the bill Thursday, making it the latest federal holiday.
Yet the Republicans who voted against it insist it's divisive.
"Our country is divided, and the cultural and political Marxists are continuing their relentless efforts to divide this country further," Rep. Paul Gosar — the Arizona Republican who has attended white supremacist gatherings and has sought to downplay the violence of the Jan. 6 insurrection with lies — said in a statement.
Gosar added, "Juneteenth is more debunked Critical Race Theory in action. I reject racism. I reject the racial division people are promoting. I voted no because this proposed holiday does not bring us together, it tears us apart."
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) said of his decision to vote against the Juneteenth holiday, "our Independence Day is July 4th. Period."
"Independence Day celebrates the anniversary of our declared independence from Great Britain, and it’s been that way for 245 years," Norman added. "If you want to call Juneteenth, for example, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day then fine – that’s certainly worth considering. But calling it Independence Day is WHOLLY INAPPROPIATE [sic]."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.