EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) –It’s now official, June 19th will now be recognized as a federal holiday to commemorate the emancipation of the last enslaved people in the United States.
President Biden put pen to paper Thursday afternoon in what he’s calling a historic day. June 19th will now be named as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
“This is a really really important moment in our history,” he said. “But it doesn’t just celebrate the past, it calls for action today.”
The date has long been a celebrated commemoration for African Americans and other groups. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, it wasn’t until almost three years later that everyone learned of that freedom.
“That’s why celebrate Juneteenth. We call it a day of jubilee because we have something to be jubilant about,” Moriah Hicks said.
Even though Juneteenth has received new recognition, some in El Dorado believe this doesn’t completely fix the issues surrounding the country.
“I don’t think it’s nearly enough,” Councilman Andre Rucks said. “You can’t systemically hold a group of people back for 400 years and give them a holiday and say that we have reconciled.”
Council Rucks and Moriah Hicks believes it’s going to take more action from Congress and state and local governments in order for the country to be unified.
Both call for reparations for African Americans, the protection of voter rights, in-depth education in schools about the history of slavery and steps toward police reform.
“You can talk about things but some actual stuff needs to happen,” Hicks said. “Fix what’s happening in the communities… now.”
As some prepare to celebrate again or for the very first time, Council Rucks and Hicks want the community to remember one thing.
“The marching bands are good. The parties are good. The singing and the line dances are great but we have to put some education behind that,” Hicks said.