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Rows Of Grave Markers At The McGavock Confederate Cemetery, Tennessee

Source: Pez Photography / Getty

For all of the boasting the GOP has done lately about making marginal progress in attracting Black voters, Republicans continue to have no issue whatsoever with playing around in Black people’s faces about our history and about America’s legacy of racism, anti-Black cruelty and exploitation, which they continue to downplay while celebrating the very institution that fought a war to keep us in bondage and intergenerational servitude.

Take, for example, an Alabama House bill that would give state employees the option of either getting a paid day off for Juneteenth or for Jefferson Davis’ Birthday, which is already a paid state holiday that also takes place in June.


HB 367, sponsored by Chris Sells, R-Greenville, would add the June 19 holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery, to the current list of 13 days Alabama officially celebrates and offers the day off for state employees.

But Juneteenth would not be an additional day off. Instead, state employees would be able to take that day off or Jefferson Davis’ Birthday, a state holiday marked on the first Monday in June.

For those who aren’t Civil War history buffs and are unfamiliar with Davis, he was the president of the Confederate Statesyou knowthat huge chunk of America that split off from the Union for roughly four years during the mid-late 1800s because white southerners were basically like: WTF you mean we can’t run our economy the way we see fit just because it’s entirely dependant on using negros as human cotton field clearing machines? DOWN WITH GOVERNMENT OPPRESSION!!! 

In fact, Davis himself famously declared that Black people are “fitted expressly for servitude.” So, the question is: Why would Sells and other Republicans want to literally and specifically pit these two holidays against each other by letting citizens decide which they’re going to celebrate? (Spoiler alert: Sells’ lame-ass excuse will not help her case much.)

“I wanted to do it in a way without giving another paid holiday,” Sells said in an interview last month. “State employees, I think, already get 13 paid holidays, and I think that is plenty. I didn’t want to go another 14th day.”

Monument to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Jefferson Davis Monument     Source: Barry Winiker / Getty

Alabama Already Has 3 Paid Holidays Honoring Slavery (AKA The Confederacy)

Let’s start with the fact that Sells is such a tightwad about giving workers paid days off that a single paid holiday on top of the 13 the state already has on the books is the straw that breaks the camel’s backbecause, honestly, the camel needs to pull itself up by its bootstraps anyway and stop begging for government handouts in the form of paid days away from the huge straw-carrying operation that depends on its labor. (I may have lost the thread a bit on that metaphor.)

Mind you, Davis’ birthday is one of three state holidays honoring the Confederacy. So, if 14 paid holidays are, for whatever reason, too many, why not get rid of one of the other holidays commemorating slavery rather than putting one up as a trade-off for Juneteenth?

“I just did this because there are several bills floating around in my committee to make Juneteenth a permanent holiday, and I wanted to do it in a way without giving another paid holiday,” Sells said.

Yeah, not gonna front, that really sounds like segregation. This has big “separate but equal” energy.

It should be noted that Juneteenth, despite being a federal holiday, is not even currently a paid day off in the state of Alabama. Sells is sponsoring this bill in anticipation of it becoming an official holiday in the state. Sells would have us believe that isolating Juneteenth as a “maybe” holiday is all about state budget cutting, but it looks more like preemptive racism.

This whole thing is reminiscent of when former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy insisted that Juneteenth was a “useless” and “redundant” holiday because: “The spirit of Juneteenth we already channeled into other holidays like Martin Luther King Day.” Does a holiday commemorating MLK, who was born 64 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, have anything to do with a holiday celebrating the end of slavery? Nope! Do the two holidays have anything in common outside them both being “Black holidays” that honor a part of history white conservatives (and Nikki Haley) would sooner erase completely than tell the non-whitewashed truth about? Of course not!

So, Republicans will brag about bringing more Black people to the Republican party, but, do they even respect us at all?

See Also:

‘Supporting White Culture’: Florida Bill To Protect Confederate Monuments Advances

Op:Ed: Forty Acres And A Mule 158 Years Later

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