In a recent episode of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, host Trevor Noah shared his thoughts on Juneteenth. The holiday, now scheduled to gain federal recognition after President Joe Biden signs a bill on the 17th, is a celebration of when freedom from slavery was proclaimed in Texas on June 19th, 1865.
Last year, Noah addressed the surprise some people felt when they saw that the holiday was bipartisan. According to him, the bill gained Republican support partly because the idea of a day off transcends party lines. However, he also said that there was a more insidious reason: "Of course Republican senators support Juneteenth," Noah continued. "They love to celebrate the end of slavery. To them, that's the happy ending in the story of racism."
Juneteenth's new federal holiday status comes amidst a widespread push by Republicans to ban "critical race theory" in schools, which many have argued is an attempt to censor any discussion of modern racism. Republicans are also opposing measures such as slavery reparations, a voter rights bill, and police reform, all of which enjoy widespread support among the African-American community. As such, it makes sense that Trevor Noah would be skeptical of their support for Juneteenth.
Nonetheless, Noah expressed zesty faith in the power of symbolic change, comparing Juneteenth to MLK Day: "Symbols are a big part of America, and they can have real-world effects. You know, the same way that celebrating Martin Luther King Day raises awareness of his legacy and his cause. Or how President's Day reminds Americans that they forgot to vote for president back in November."
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