Juneteenth should be an official state holiday

DeSantis continues to oppress the proper education of Black history by failing to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. 

PantherNOW Editorial Board

Despite its significance and recognition at the federal level for the last four years, Juneteenth is not an official holiday in the state of Florida. 

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of the last slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. More broadly, the day celebrates African American resiliency and independence. 

It’s no surprise that the majority of the 23 states that fail to declare Juneteenth a state holiday are Republican-led— including Florida.

To be clear, Florida does observe the holiday, but it isn’t a paid day off.

Even though the day is still celebrated whether it’s with family, friends or even here at FIU, Florida’s failure to declare Juneteenth a paid state holiday is a failure to recognize its historical significance.

In 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis stated in his “Juneteenth Day” proclamation that the day was an “important opportunity to…celebrate the achievements and contributions African Americans have made… in Florida and across our nations”.

Yet having the holiday as a paid day off is too much to ask for? 

Ironically, after DeSantis’s proclamation, nothing has been done to show any sort of appreciation for African American history— actually the opposite has been done.

Through DeSantis’s “Stop WOKE Act” and his track record of anti-diversity legislations, Juneteenth is just another victim of his conservative agenda. 

The governor is failing to acknowledge the troubled past treatment of black people in America. Where have we seen this before? 

DeSantis advocated for the removal of AP African American Studies. He denounced the curriculum because it’s “contrary to Florida law” and “indoctrination” due to the inclusion of black queer theory. 

Under DeSantis, the Florida Department of Education has changed its curriculum, making the absurd and factually inaccurate claim that enslaved people personally benefited from slavery because they learned technical skills while in captivity.  

Nothing screams “anti-indoctrination” like trying to rewrite history in whatever way you see fit, right governor? 

All of these moves tie back to June 19. 

As it stands, Juneteenth is only recognized as a holiday on the state’s public holiday list. Want to know what else is recognized in Florida at the same level? 

The birthday of infamous Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Jan. 19 and Confederate Memorial Day on April 26. 

DeSantis continues to oppress the proper education of Black history by failing to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. 

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