On Wednesday, lawmakers voted 415-14 to pass legislation that would make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday, meant to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the country. The vote has stirred controversy because of the name of the holiday — Juneteenth National Independence Day.
Critics say “independence day” was deliberately chosen to stoke divide by diminishing the actual day Americans declared independence from the crown. Those who opposed the bill said it would have been a unanimous vote had lawmakers simply named it ‘Juneteenth National Emancipation Day.’
Indeed, calling it independence day is not fully accurate as emancipation is literally defined as “the freeing of someone from slavery” — which is what happened on that day.
While both sides continue to argue, however, they are missing the point entirely — slavery never really ended, it was merely redefined.