In his first proclamation making “Juneteenth” a federal holiday last year, Biden recounted how on June 19, 1865, over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally freed when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, who fought for the union, arrived at Galveston delivering the announcement in General Order No. 3, “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
According to the History Channel, Juneteenth has “become a day to commemorate the end of slavery in America.”
But Juneteenth was not the official end of slavery in the United States. It is widely believed that this marked the official end of slavery in the United States, and that’s why there had been a push to make it a federal holiday and why Biden obliged, but the truth is, slavery didn’t officially end on June 19, 1865. Slavery continued to exist in the United States until December 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified.
“When Granger arrived in Galveston, there still existed around 250,000 slaves and they were not all freed immediately, or even soon,” explained NPR last year. “It was not uncommon for slave owners, unwilling to give up free labor, to refuse to release their slaves until forced to, in person, by a representative of the government,” historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote. “Some would wait until one final harvest was complete, and some would just outright refuse to submit. It was a perilous time for Black people, and some former slaves who were freed or attempted to get free were attacked and killed.”
According to Christopher Tremoglie at the Washington Examiner, Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday had more to do with George Floyd than the end of slavery. “It did not receive widespread recognition until after the George Floyd rioting and looting,” he explains. “If you doubt this, compare the enthusiasm and numerous celebratory posts for the holiday by celebrities and such on social media in its first year compared to this year. Democrats throughout the country used this racial unrest to exploit and pander to black Americans by advocating for Juneteenth.”
Tremoglie added, “It was as if every Democrat in the country, during a year in which there was a presidential election, wanted to show black people and white liberals how enlightened, compassionate, and ‘woke’ they were by supporting Juneteenth.”
This isn’t a well-kept secret, either. “President Joe Biden’s signing into law a measure making Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021 came on the heels of the racial justice upheavals of 2020 that followed the murder of George Floyd,” Peniel E. Joseph, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, acknowledged in an article at CNN. last week. “The story of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger delivering the news of Black people’s hard-earned path toward citizenship and dignity became a metaphor for America in 2020, which was weighed down by a pandemic and convulsing with demonstrations demanding an end to structural racism in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder.”
Tremoglie argues that the political left using George Floyd’s death as a pretext for promoting Juneteenth as a federal holiday was “nothing more than shameful political pandering and the typical cheap parlor tricks they use to appear to care for black Americans.”
This is exactly what Juneteeth as a federal holiday has become. In this year’s Juneteenth proclamation, Joe Biden promised that his administration would continue its “efforts to root out inequity from our country and institutions,” which is merely a dog whistle for pushing more government programs and finding racism where it doesn’t exist.
While Americans agree that slavery was a horrible institution, thousands of Americans died to end it, and its demise should be celebrated federally. But is Juneteenth really the best day for that? Juneteenth was co-opted by the left to become a day to push their own racialized agenda. Perhaps it would be better for our country to celebrate the end of slavery on the anniversary of when slavery truly ended in America.