In the process of trying to figure out a way to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, lawmakers in Connecticut approved legislation Wednesday evening to officially recognize Juneteenth, according to the Associated Press.
Black legislators spoke about the importance of having Juneteenth as a holiday. The bill is now headed to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk after passing the House 148-1 and clearing the senate 30-1.
In June 2021, Juneteenth first became a federal holiday, becoming the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983 and giving Black people around the country a day off work, who wouldn’t want that?
From the Associated Press:
As in other states, Connecticut’s legislation honors the day in 1865 when enslaved Black people in Texas were freed with the arrival of federal troops. It’s the latest in a string of bills passed in recent years that attempt to address racial inequities, including a 2021 law that makes it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their hairstyle.
Some Black legislators appeared to take issue Wednesday with comments made by Republican Rep. Kimberly Fiorello of Greenwich, who raised concerns about the General Assembly’s “unhealthy” focus on race.
“We talk about education for Black children. There are white children that need help,” said Fiorello, who is of Asian descent. While Fiorello voted for the bill, calling it a “holiday for all people of all skin tones,” she said lawmakers “have to stop, get out of this mindset that disparities mean discrimination.”
Black legislators were not happy with those comments and to anger them even more Fiorello said that the clause in the Constitution counting slaves as three-fifths of a human was a step toward ending slavery, when scholars have commented saying that the clause had no intent to end slavery, according to the Associated Press.
Democratic Rep. Robyn Porter in particular went at Fiorello’s comments saying the three-fifths compromise was created during the 1787 Constitutional Convention because they were trying to determine allotted seats in the House and give out taxes based on population.
More from the Associated Press:
Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, cast the lone “no” vote in the House on Wednesday. She called Juneteenth Independence Day “a wonderful thing” but didn’t believe it should be a state holiday, noting how state employees will have 16 paid holidays, in addition to sick, vacation and personal days, if Lamont signs the bill into law.
“I mean, what holiday will be next that will be paid for?” she asked. “We can come up with many holidays.”
While she’s complaining about there being too many holidays, I’ll gladly enjoy my June 19th with the rest of the Black community.