LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Along with signs reading Black Lives Matter, and demanding justice for black men recently killed by police like Rayshard Brooks and George Floyd, people across the U.S. held signs in honor of Juneteenth on Friday.
Commemorating June 19, 1865, the day slaves in Galveston, Texas learned they were free - two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
As democratic congressional candidate David Holden says, it only marked the beginning of justice for black Americans.
“The end of slavery was not the end of racism or the end of discrimination or the end of unequal treatment,” he said.
Holden (D) and Byron Donalds (R) are facing each other and 9 others for the 19th congressional seat. They shared their views about the historic day with Fox 4.
The senate approved Florida Senator Marco Rubio and John Cornyn’s resolution making June 19 Juneteenth Independence Day. Holden and Donalds both support it.
“Our country has the unique ability to grow and to be better every single day, every single single year, and Juneteenth is a part of that history,” said Donalds.
Now, there’s a bigger push to make it a paid holiday like the Fourth of July. Senator Rick Scott also said he’ll consider the legislation. But, Donald’s is hesitant.
“In terms of closing financial markets and having it a holiday - a full-blown holiday, not sure about that yet. But, it’s definitely something that should be observed in the United States,” he said.
Holden on the other hand says he wholeheartedly supports it as a paid national holiday, and added the work to right the wrongs of the past goes beyond a paid day off.
“What I’m more interested in as a potential member of congress is can we do the work to change the underlying systemic racism that has been with us for so many decades,” he said.
Southwest Florida school districts also weighed in on their efforts surrounding Juneteenth. Collier County Schools offers optional lessons about Juneteenth. Lee County Schools has not yet discussed recognizing it as a holiday. Charlotte County Schools say they plan to recognize it in coming years.