Biden signs Juneteenth bill into law, What does it mean for Cobb County?
With the stroke of his pen, President Joe Biden signed bipartisan supported legislation into law establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Surrounded by members of congress, Biden said, “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made.”
Juneteenth memorializes when the last enslaved people in Texas learned about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. It is a commemoration of the date that Major General Gordon Granger delivered General Orders Number 3 to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas more than two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in the Confederacy. The Order gave instructions to Black folks to “remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.”
Juneteenth National Independence Day is now the 11th annual federal holiday and the first one established since the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday, and the House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to approve it. Biden called signing the bill “an enormous, enormous honor” saying “This is a day of profound weight and profound power. A day which you’ll remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.”
As we celebrate the passing of this new law, there are elephants in the room that we cannot ignore. Many believe the law is a good first step, but questions remain on reparations. The law comes at a time when Congress cannot come together on agreements on the police reform bill, voter rights legislation, or other human rights initiatives.
In our local community, SPOTLIGHT has continuously reported in past editions the ongoing push by Cobb Chair Lisa Cupid to name every blade of grass in Mableton after the civil war as she preserves that hurtful history. Cupid is “tone deaf” to our community that this is the exploration of ugly wounds on the souls of Black people. These wounds will never heal as she picks at the scabs in her celebration of hurtful history in Mableton. As Cupid blindly proceeds down this path, enlightened communities are taking down memorials and other tributes to the civil war that was fought to keep Blacks enslaved. Her inability to relate calls her leadership into question and signals that she is willing to put preserving the civil war history above creating and promoting a diverse community in Cobb.
As we celebrate Juneteenth becoming law, we must never take our eyes off the horizon as we continue to advocate in our communities and in our country for lawmakers to make the right decisions for us by passing laws and leading discussions that celebrate our diversity and inclusion, not those that will tear us apart.