Here’s how Florida politicos are honoring Juneteenth
Juneteenth supporters march at the Brooklyn museum. Image via AP.

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"We still have a long way to go."

On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed legislation that established a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery: Juneteenth.

The legislation cleared the House in a 415-14 vote on Wednesday, sending the bill to the President’s desk. It passed the Senate unanimously the day prior, Tuesday.

As the country celebrates Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, here’s how Florida politicos are ringing in the new holiday.

Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, who were part of the unanimous Senate vote to approve the holiday, both tweeted out commemorating the day.

On #Juneteenth, we remember June 19, 1865, which marked the true end of slavery in America & a new day of freedom in our nation. Today & every day, let’s renew our commitment to freedom & human rights for all,” Scott posted

Rubio opted to share a video clip to commemorate the holiday, in which he speaks about the county’s history of slavery and racism, calling it “a shameful truth,” and “an undeniable part of our history.”

“Our story can largely be summarized as a 244 year journey to more fully live up to the promises of our founding,” Rubio says in the clip.

Florida members of the U.S. House also chimed in on the day, with no members of the state’s delegation voting against the legislation in the lower chamber.

Gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist posted on twitter saying, “I urge my neighbors to take time to recognize the significance of this day, honoring the painful truths of our past while celebrating the joys of hard fought civil rights & freedom.”

Congress woman Val Demings, who is running against Rubio for Senate, shared a post of her speaking on the House floor in support of the Juneteenth bill.

“Today we celebrate freedom from physical bondage. But freedom is so much more than that. True liberty is freedom from discrimination, racism, poverty, injustice,” Demings wrote.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, also a candidate in the 2022 Governor’s race, tweeted out, “#JuneTeenth2021 is a celebration of independence for Black Americans enslaved for generations. 156 years later, the struggle for true emancipation continues through the fight to protect and expand voting rights.”

State lawmakers have also shared celebratory messages, including South Florida Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones, who tweeted, “Even when our rights and liberties were denied, Blacks was STILL persistent in helping with the building of America, brick by brick. Yes, we celebrate today, but let’s also affirm that despite parts of America’s ugly past, things CAN get better. WE can be better! #JuneTeenth2021″

Sen. Perry Thurston also posted in honor of Juneteenth, adding a message about addressing racism in the country’s current society.

As we celebrate #Juneteenth we must let today serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to address systemic racism in every aspect of our economy and society. Happy #Juneteenth!” he posted. 

Tampa Bay Rep. Fentrice Driskell, who sponsored a recently signed bill establishing a task force to research abandoned African-American cemeteries, shared “Today, we commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans just learning of their freedom. As a country, we still have a long way to go to fully honor and recognize the contributions of Black people in American history and culture.”

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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