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Juneteenth Beef


David Bozell: All right, here's my beef with Juneteenth, because I actually think the story is actually really, really cool.

If you're not familiar with it, because it's so relatively new - Major General Gordon Granger, very cool name, general in the Union Army. He's marching into Southern Texas, walks into Galveston, discovers folks that have not heard about the emancipation proclamation. And there's some debate about this, but I'll just go on the assumption that they probably didn't know that the Civil War was over. The South had surrendered a few months prior in Appomattox. So news of the South's surrender had not gotten all the way down to Southern Texas and Galveston.

My beef with Juneteenth, though, because I do think it's a cool story, and I don't mind that it's a federal holiday, even though I'm sure there are a lot of folks that quarrel with it. I just can't stand the name of it! I think Juneteenth is just a terrible name, and everything that I've been able to research about it basically suggests that the name Juneteenth references the date of the holiday, combining the words June and 19th. And I just think that's boring. And if you can't explain the name of a holiday in the name, if you have to say, "What is it?" I just don't think you've done a good enough job. It doesn't honor the event, not to mention that I'll also go on the assumption that General Granger or frankly lots of people within the Union Army were discovering folks in the South or just in rural areas that, A) didn't know that the emancipation proclamation...that it had existed, B) that even the 13th Amendment had been ratified.

I mean, what year was the 13th Amendment ratified that ended slavery? Hold on. 1865, December 6th, 1865. So okay, so at this point, so Juneteenth, okay, air quotes, "happens before, happens on June 19th, 1865." And then the 13th Amendment is ratified later that year on December 6th, 1865. So I would rather call it Emancipation Day. So you're not going to do December 6th, because December is pretty crowded, and you've just come off of Thanksgiving. So December is pretty crowded as it is.

Now, the emancipation proclamation was declared January the 1st, 1863. So you're not going to take January the 1st. That's New Year's Day. So the date, June 19th, okay, I'm cool with that.

The story, I'm cool with that, even though I don't think that Galveston is as isolated of a story as sort of legend seems to make it out to be. I'm just going to go on the assumption that there are a lot of locations that as Union generals or just the Union Army was traversing through the United States, the now reunited United States, they were probably discovering lots of people who didn't know about the South's surrender or the emancipation proclamation, but okay, Galveston gets the most attention. Cool.

Again, I just cannot stand the name. I'd rather call June 19th Emancipation Day. Or I love the original name. The original name within Texas as early as 1866 was Jubilee Day. I just think that's a cooler name, either one of those. Jubilee Day or Emancipation Day are just cooler names than June 19th. I just think it does a huge disservice.

So cool story. I'm down with having a federal holiday.

I'd rather... We have 11 federal holidays. I'd like to sort of kick... I think an even 10 is sort of a nice number. If I had to pick one, I'd probably kick out Martin Luther King Jr. Day, MLK day. I'm not a big fan. I want my federal holidays to be about groups of people, not one person, and if there's only going to be one person having a federal holiday, Jesus Christ seems like the one guy that should be honored in that way with Christmas. So, if I had to kick one out to get to an even 10, it would probably be MLK. I'd kick out Columbus Day too, honestly. It's just no big skin off my back. I know it's been kind of renamed Indigenous People's Day, which I also think is kind of a poor name, but that's for another day.

But June 19th, great. Federal holiday, great. Good story. People didn't know that they were free. Great. That's what America is all about, okay? We told people that were living within the American borders that they were free, and they didn't know it. Great. I think we can all rally around that concept.

Just a terrible name. Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day are much, much better names, and that's the way it should be done.

All right, take it easy.


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