Usher is using his platform to persuade Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday. The R&B singer wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post Friday that touched on the day’s significance to black people and the country as a whole.
“It is ours to honor the legacy of our ancestors, ours to celebrate and ours to remember where we once were as a people,” he writes. “And it should be a national holiday, observed by all Americans.”
Juneteenth marks the day the last slaves in the USA were freed. On June, 19, 1865, he writes that Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived by boat to Galveston, Texas, to announce that The Civil War was over and slaves were free, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
“The liberation Juneteenth commemorates is cause for celebration, but it also reminds us how equality can be delayed,” Usher writes. “Making sure that our history is told is critical to supporting and sustaining our growth as a people. The least we deserve is to have this essential moment included in the broader American story.”
Usher writes that while recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday would be a small step forward, it should serve as a reminder for the work still needed to be done for racial justice.
“My heart is shattered by the ongoing injustices in this country, incited by its long history of racism that has led to deadly outcomes for too many of our people,” he writes. “This country must change. And it must change quickly. Recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday would be a small gesture compared with the greater social needs of black people in America.”
The singer encouraged his followers to sign a change.org petition started by activist Opal Lee urging Congress to declare Juneteenth a national holiday. Lee also organized Opal’s Walk to call for the day’s recognition.
Make Juneteenth A National Holiday! I proudly join the incredible people and organizations who have been working on this for years, among them the inspiring Opal Lee, a 93-year-old from Fort Worth, Tex. Sign the petition she started!https://t.co/fdbS9uJr69 pic.twitter.com/MS8Xm1sJfv
— Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) June 19, 2020
Besides Usher’s efforts, Live Nation announced a collaboration with Color of Change, Lift Every Voice: A Juneteenth Special, will be held 5 p.m. PST Friday. Anderson .Paak released the Black Lives Matter-inspired single “Lockdown” and announced at the end of the video that he, his cast and crew donated donated to various charities.
Usher writes that supporting black-owned businesses, honoring people and history, and celebrating the contributions black people made to the country are some ways to celebrate.
“A national Juneteenth observance can affirm that Black Lives Matter,” he writes.
For Usher’s full statement, click here.
Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat