The country celebrates Juneteenth as a federal holiday today, June 20, 2022, after Joe Biden signed the legislation on June 17, 2021.
Juneteenth National Independence Day is the 12th legal public holiday and commemorates the day Union soldiers led by Gen. Gordon Granger arrived on June 19, 1865, in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state.
Now that Juneteenth is an official national holiday, Black America is wondering if reparations on a federal level will be next. Is it time for the U.S. to deliver on the 40 acres of land that was promised to freed slaves after the emancipation?
In October 2021, 62 percent of respondents told researchers with Gallup’s Center on Black Voices that the government should take action to reduce the continuing impacts of slavery. This included 54 percent of white poll respondents, 83 percent of Black poll respondents and 71 percent of Latino respondents.
Some cities, states, and federal elected officials have already expressed support for reparations research, and the California Reparations Task Force has already delivered the first-ever state report on reparations.
But H.R. 40, a federal bill named after the federal promise more than 150 years ago for 40 acres of land, has yet to be passed. H.R. 40 was introduced in Congress to task a commission with studying and developing reparations proposals, but it has floundered in the House for more than 30 years.
Black America wants more than a Juneteenth holiday.
“Don’t celebrate the end of slavery without advocating for reparations,” former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner tweeted.
“How can President Biden and VP Harris be taken seriously or believed when Mr. Biden hasn’t signed an executive order to study reparations for American Descendants of Slavery. He’s not a trustworthy man and continues the cycle of injustice against us specifically,” Hojo63 tweeted.
“Let’s talk reparations for the descendants of the people enslaved in America,” The Regular Network tweeted.
Others called for action.
“Shared work? Racial Justice? Equity? Equality? Juneteenth has zero to do with any of your catch phrases. Yall can pass legislation for Reparations for the descendants of American Slaves ie freedman,” tweeted Brother Matthew.
Some experts say America just is not ready for reparations for Black people.
“We don’t have reparations right now because America isn’t sorry. We have not had an adequate apology for slavery,” said Edgar Villanueva, founder of the philanthropic organization Decolonizing Wealth Project, which funds reparative giving efforts. “There’s a deep-seated fear of even the word reparations and a related scarcity mindset around America’s unwillingness to grapple with its history that connects back to colonization. So instead, we’re experiencing the rewriting of history, the banning of books, and a fear of truth-telling.”
Photo: The Juneteenth flag flies over the state Capitol along with the U.S., California and POW/MIA flags in Sacramento, Calif., June 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)