FLORENCE, Ala. — Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States, continues to grow in reverence.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday—the first since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
415 representatives voted “yes” on the bill, however, 14 — including Mo Brooks and Mike Rogers of Alabama — voted “no.”
Brooks told AL.com the bill should have been celebrating events like the Emancipation Proclamation or the end of the Civil War. His statement was not well received from Project Say Something Founder Camille Bennett.
“That statement is steeped in arrogance and white dominance,” Bennett said. “Just to think that you have the power or the authority to decide when a holiday should be that has nothing to do with you, specifically, but that’s to commemorate the black lives that were enslaved, is just—it just blows my mind.”
Despite Brooks’ stance, both Bennett and Jammin4Justice President Melissa Hardin said making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a step in the right direction.
“Thank God; it’s just a complete feeling for me of jubilee that finally, finally you’re recognizing that it did take place,” Hardin said. “You’re recognizing and you want us to be celebrated and honored because our ancestors—their sweat, their blood, their tears, made valuable, valuable contributions to this country.”
To celebrate Juneteenth, Project Say Something is having a downtown Florence block party at the Lauderdale County Courthouse Friday night at 7, and on Sunday, Jammin4Justice will have a celebration and car show at McFarland Park from noon to 9 p.m.