By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Officials from the University of Wyoming joined Gov. Mark Gordon in celebrating President Joe Biden’s recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday this week.
UW president Ed Seidel and Jeff Marsh, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, noted that Gordon would have the full support of the university in his endeavor to formalize Juneteenth as a state holiday.
“Wyoming has recognized the Juneteenth holiday since 2003, when the Legislature passed a bill establishing the holiday on the third Saturday of the month,” Seidel and Marsh said. “The fact that we now have an officially recognized federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, one of the darkest chapters in our great nation’s history, is something to celebrate.”
Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 when all enslaved African-Americans learned they were freed by former President Abraham Lincoln two years earlier.
While the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the South in 1863, it wasn’t enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War two years later.
Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word didn’t reach all enslaved black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas.
“The events of the last year across our nation show we have much work still to do,” Seidel and Marsh said. “We hope that everyone will take the time to reflect on the pain and progress that has brought us to this meaningful step, supported by our federal delegation, unanimously by the U.S. Senate and overwhelmingly by the U.S. House, and join us in celebrating this momentous progress!”
However, while this was a great step forward in Seidel and Marsh’s opinions, they agreed more could be done for equality and said they are dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all at the university.
“Freedom is always a cause for celebration and this is a momentous day in our nation’s history. I encourage people to observe this commemoration of the full enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, which embodies the values of all Americans,” Gordon said on Thursday in signing a proclamation in support of the new federal holiday.
The legislation making Juneteenth a national holiday passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and by a 415 – 14 vote in the House.
It’s been 35 years since the last federal holiday was created. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated federally in 1986.
Many Cowboy State Daily readers were none too pleased to read the news of Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday, with some commenting that Biden was wasting his time with small issues and others questioning whether other holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo, should be federal holidays.
“Doubtful many Americans in Wyoming had slaves. Time to move on,” John Fox wrote.
“We don’t need it, its just pandering to the left. We are better than this,” Michael Jones said.
“So does this mean they can celebrate by burning down a city the whole month of June! That’s how they celebrate with victories these day’s. Remember white people were slaves too,” Linda Todd wrote.
“For crying out loud , dont we have enough holidays (or as I call them , excuses for people not to go to work) ?” W.D. Coe wrote.