Civil rights historian reacts to Juneteenth nationwide vacation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederation surrendered. This day is known as “Junieenth”.

For decades, civil rights activists have tried to give Juneteenth greater national recognition. All of that hard work came to fruition on Thursday when President Joe Biden signed law making June thenth a national holiday.

“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of that day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we have come but the distance we must go,” said President Biden.

Barry McNealy is an Education Advisor at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. He calls the signing of the law a monumental day.

“I think it’s a very, very important milestone as we mark how far our nation has come,” said McNealy.

A recent Gallup poll shows that more than 60% of Americans surveyed know nothing about the Juneteenth at all. McNealy, who is a walking history book, says we can describe the rich heritage and history of all the people of America much better.

“When we do that, it strengthens us by recognizing this diversity. That makes us stronger, not weaker, ”said McNealy.

Last year, the annual Juneteenth observance became even more popular as the country grappled with the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests.

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