Deroy Murdock: Trump, GOP and Democrats should make Juneteenth a federal holiday by July 4

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Senator John Cornyn, R - Texas, soon will introduce a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

President Donald J. Trump should hold a prime-time speech from either the Oval Office, on his own, or in the East Room, with an audience, and call for this bill’s passage, with overwhelming bipartisan support, so that he can sign it on July 4.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Army soldiers reached Galveston, Texas and read General Order No. 3 to people who had been property: “All slaves are free.” For them and all former slaves, a bright, bright sunshiny day had arrived.


“It took two and a half years for the slaves in the south to learn that they were free,” said Senator Cornyn. “And that day came on a day we now celebrate as Juneteenth.” Cornyn, the Senate’s second-highest-ranking Republican, has recognized Juneteenth with resolutions in that chamber since 2011.

“Juneteenth reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation,” Trump said in a Presidential Message this morning. ”It is both a remembrance of a blight on our history and a celebration of our Nation’s unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness.”

The president of the United States added: “This Juneteenth, we commit, as one Nation, to live true to our highest ideals and to build always toward a freer, stronger country that values the dignity and boundless potential of all Americans.”

Enacting a Juneteenth federal holiday over the next fortnight would be a significant act of national unity at a time when the United States is being torn to pieces amid claims that America is systemically racist, institutionally bigoted, and that “Nothing has changed!” since the days of Jim Crow, as one street protester recently screamed.


A Juneteenth holiday would focus on both sides of this American reality: the sin of slavery, which cursed this country and tortured blacks until 1865 and the freedom that they gained under the Emancipation Proclamation and the Union Army’s defeat of the Confederacy. -- That was the beginning of liberty that blacks began to enjoy across America, and with which they contributed mightily to this nation.

An inadequately light sketch of this rich portrait would stretch from Booker T. Washington’s "Up from Slavery" and his creation of the Tuskegee Institute to Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female millionaire, who made her fortune selling hair care products to fellow blacks (as dramatized in the new Netflix limited series "Self-Made," starring Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer).

This outline would include Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. They co-fathered jazz, to the accompaniment of W.C. Handy, Sidney Bechet, Ella Fitzgerald, and other pioneers of that all-American musical genre, many (but surely not all) of them black.

The Tuskegee Airmen helped defeat fascism from above in World War II, thus bombing to smithereens the racist claims that blacks lacked the brains to fly planes, especially military aircraft.

Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, Sidney Poitier ignited the Silver Screen, Berry Gordy incorporated Motown, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerfully expressed Dream inspired Americans, culminating in the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

And much, much, much more.

The steady stream of black gifts to America, which flowed from the liberty that blacks secured on Juneteenth, is what this new holiday would honor.

“Though American blacks are free, some still believe institutional racism hinders our ability to thrive,” said Derryck Green, a fellow member of the conservative Project 21 Black Leadership Network. “We should flatly reject such hopelessness.”

Enacting a Juneteenth national holiday also would provide powerful evidence of the Republican Party’s historical and ongoing advancement of black Americans.

Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Chief Justice Earl Warren, former Republican governor of California, wrote the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which took the first swing at Jim Crow and turbocharged the Civil Rights Movement.

Senator Everett Dirksen, R - Illinois, broke the filibuster, led by former Ku Klux Klan recruiter and Exalted Cyclops in the KKK Robert Byrd, D - West Virginia, which allowed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to pass the Senate and reach Democrat President Lyndon Johnson’s desk for signature.

President Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1983 to create the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.

Reagan also appointed Colin Powell as America’s first black National Security Adviser in 1988, before he became this republic’s first black secretary of state under GOP President George W. Bush.


By signing a Juneteenth national holiday into law, President Donald J. Trump would join this long and distinguished list of Republican friends of black Americans and, one hopes, irreversibly derail the left’s freight train of lies that he is an anti-black bigot.

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Trump’s advocacy of school choice for inner-city children, support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), creation of Opportunity Zones in low-income neighborhoods and signature on the First Step Act criminal-justice-reform legislation already disprove this hideous calumny, for those willing to reject the slurs and check the facts.

Powerful, peaceful protests aside, the three weeks since George Floyd’s atrocious death beneath former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s sadistic knee have reeked of chaos, hatred, violence, and destruction.

Democrat votes for a Republican-led effort to make Juneteenth an annual, national appreciation of black liberation and everything which that liberty fueled would be the biggest, most positive thing to arise, phoenix-like, from the smoldering rubble of this June’s appalling race riots.


President Trump’s signing this national holiday into law on July 4 would unite American independence and black American liberty. Imagine the president, his Cabinet, the entire Congress, from both parties and all ethnic backgrounds, applauding this development, in unison, on the White House lawn. They could begin by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and conclude by holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome.”

Such heartwarming sounds and images finally would put this calamitous June in the rear-view mirror and shine headlights of love and beauty into the second half of 2020 and far, far down the road ahead.