Rep. Ralph Norman criticized the creation of a federal holiday for Juneteenth.
“How many holidays do we want?” he asked. “Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians?”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers delivered news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas.
See more stories on Insider’s business page.
On Wednesday, the House voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the nation’s newest federal holiday.
Since the bill was previously passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, it headed to President Joe Biden, who on Thursday swiftly signed the legislation into law.
GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, one of 14 Republicans who voted against the legislation, took to Fox News Radio on Thursday to explain his opposition, saying that the vote “was an easy no vote” and questioned if a holiday would now have to be established for Native Americans as well.
During the program “Fox Across America with Jimmy Failla,” Norman also cited the number of existing holidays in detailing his rejection of a federal holiday for Juneteenth, while alleging that supporters were using “race” as an issue.
“There’s one Fourth of July. There’s one birthday … Independence Day is Fourth of July. And I had a lot of negativity on it. But this was an easy ‘no’ vote,” he said. “The fact that they would try to make race a part of it, it had nothing to do with race.”
He added: “How many holidays do we want? What’s the magic number? This would put it to eleven. Do we want twenty? Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians? I mean, where does it stop?”
Read more: What we learned about Joe Biden from riding Amtrak with a Senate colleague who has known the president for five decades
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers delivered news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the end of the Civil War and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth is the first national holiday that has been established in the US since the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in 1983.
“All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” Biden said at a ceremony at the White House on Thursday. “I said a few weeks ago, marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments of the past. They embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away.”
He emphasized: “We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And in remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”
At the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris also reaffirmed the historical significance of the Juneteenth.
“We are footsteps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation,” she said. “We have come far and we have far to go, but today is a day of celebration. It is not only a day of pride. It is also a day for us to reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to action.”
Read the original article on Business Insider