TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Florida was the second state in America to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. as part of “Juneteenth,” but is among 26 states to not give government employees a paid day off work.
Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in America by marking the anniversary of Major General Gordon Granger’s freedom proclamation in Texas on June 19, 1865.
In 1980, Texas became the first state in the U.S. to officially commemorate the occasion, according to the USA Today. Eleven years later, Florida followed suit in 1991 under Governor Lawton Chiles. Oklahoma (1994) and Minnesota (1996) were the only other states to do the same during the 20th century.
In June 2021, President Biden made the occasion a federally recognized holiday by signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Today, all 50 states recognize the holiday, but roughly half of them do not give government employees a paid day off work.
Coincidentally, Florida was also hosting Martin Luther King Jr. on June 19, 1964 – the day Congress passed the Civil Rights Act.
USING JUNETEENTH TO ATTACK DESANTIS
Despite Florida’s historic ties to Juneteenth, Left-wing activists and groups have used the holiday to launch politically motivated attacks on Governor Ron DeSantis.
NewsOne published an article arguing that the governor is a white supremacist because he vetoed legislation that would have sent $160,000 in taxpayer dollars to “bring awareness to the health disparities” as part of Orlando’s “1619 Fest.”
On Sunday, a coalition of advocacy groups – including the Florida NAACP – kicked off the “Stay Woke Florida” bus tour during “Juneteenth Week” to oppose the state’s conservative policies.
The rhetoric of these activists contrasts with a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute that found Florida’s 3.4 percent black unemployment rate ranks third lowest in the U.S. – just 0.1 percent behind South Dakota and Alabama.
Conversely, that figure for prominent blue states California, New York, Illinois, Oregon and Washington surpasses the national average of 5.7 percent.