August 2, 2009 became a memorable tar hill day when North Carolina’s legislature crafted an impressive piece of Juneteenth hocus-pocus. Unknowingly, their flim-flam backfired immediately, although to this day, they still may not know it. On that day, this diabolical piece of trickery was passed.
“When Juneteenth National Freedom Day or a substantially similar holiday becomes a nationally recognized holiday, the General Assembly shall recognize the nineteenth day of June each year as Juneteenth National Freedom Day, to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and to demonstrate racial reconciliation and healing from the legacy of slavery.
Using future tense wording implies legislators may have been trying to kick the ball down the road. Essentially, they said, “if the rest of the nation does it, we won’t resist.” But things didn’t turn out that way. Their only condition, “When … a substantially similar holiday becomes a nationally recognized holiday” was achieved way back in 1948. That year, President Harry Truman and the U.S. Congress created an annual celebration of the day when the proposed Thirteenth Amendment was endorsed by President Lincoln.
Does it qualify as “substantially similar?” Absolutely.
- It’s a national day.
- It’s a national day that commemorates emancipation.
- It’s a national day that commemorates emancipation, using the same name! i.e., National Freedom Day.
Since the bill’s sole condition had already been met, North Carolina’s General Assembly should be recognizing June 19th annually. Are they? If not, there are plausible reasons. a) Maybe news of the observance hasn’t reached North Carolina. b) National Freedom Day is described as an official national observance, not a “holiday”. On the other hand, North Carolina’s bill says “substantially similar”, not identical.