Proposed Alabama Bill Forces Workers to Choose Between Observing Juneteenth or Jefferson Davis’ Birthday

For all the recent claims made by the GOP about making small gains in attracting Black voters, Republicans still have no problem disrespecting the Black community by disregarding our history and the legacy of racism and cruelty in America. They downplay these issues while simultaneously celebrating the institution that fought to keep us enslaved and oppressed for generations.

An Alabama House bill offers state employees the choice between taking a paid day off for Juneteenth or for Jefferson Davis’ Birthday. The latter is already a paid state holiday that coincides with June.

According to a report from Al.com, it has been reported that…

HB 367 , sponsored by Chris Sells, R-Greenville, would add the June 19 holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery, to the current list of 13 days Alabama officially celebrates and offers the day off for state employees. But Juneteenth would not be an additional day off. Instead, state employees would be able to take that day off or Jefferson Davis’ Birthday, a state holiday marked on the first Monday in June.

If you’re not well-versed in Civil War history, you might not be familiar with Davis. He served as the president of the Confederate States, a significant portion of America that seceded from the Union for about four years in the mid-late 1800s. The main reason behind this separation was the refusal to give up their economic system, which heavily relied on using enslaved individuals to clear cotton fields. The white southerners felt that the government was suppressing their rights and freedom.

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Davis, in fact, famously declared that Black people are “fitted expressly for servitude.” This raises the question: why would Sells and other Republicans want to pit these two holidays against each other by allowing citizens to choose which one they will celebrate? Unfortunately, Sells’ weak excuse will not do much to support her case.

In a recent interview, Sells explained his intention to implement the change without adding another paid holiday for state employees. He highlighted that state employees already enjoy 13 paid holidays, which he believes is sufficient. Sells expressed his hesitation in adding a 14th day off.

The Jefferson Davis Monument, captured in a stunning photograph by Barry Winiker, stands tall and proud as a historical landmark.

Alabama Already Has 3 Paid Holidays Honoring Slavery (AKA The Confederacy)

Sells is notorious for being extremely frugal when it comes to granting employees paid time off. It’s astonishing that even a single additional paid holiday is considered excessive, especially considering that the state already provides 13 paid holidays. Sells seems to believe that workers should be self-reliant and not rely on government assistance in the form of paid time away from their crucial roles in the straw-carrying operation. (I may have strayed a bit with that metaphor.)

Davis’ birthday is just one of three state holidays that honor the Confederacy. If there is a concern about having too many paid holidays, why not eliminate one of the other holidays that commemorate slavery instead of using Juneteenth as a replacement?

“I decided to take this step because there are multiple bills currently under consideration in my committee to establish Juneteenth as a permanent holiday. However, I wanted to find a way to accomplish this without adding another paid holiday,” explained Sells.

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I have to admit, that definitely sounds like segregation. It reminds me of the “separate but equal” concept, which is concerning.

Juneteenth, although a federal holiday, is not currently a paid day off in Alabama. Sells is sponsoring a bill in hopes of making it an official holiday in the state. Sells wants us to believe that the decision to not recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday is due to budget constraints, but it appears to be rooted in racism.

Former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy once argued that Juneteenth was a “useless” and “redundant” holiday, claiming that the spirit of Juneteenth was already captured by holidays like Martin Luther King Day. However, it’s important to recognize that Martin Luther King Day, which commemorates a figure born long after the Emancipation Proclamation, is not directly related to the holiday celebrating the end of slavery. Despite both being “Black holidays,” these two occasions do not share any significant similarities beyond honoring different aspects of history. It is evident that some white conservatives, including Nikki Haley, would rather erase these historical events than acknowledge the unvarnished truth.

Republicans often boast about their efforts to attract more Black individuals to the Republican party. However, it is important to question whether they truly hold a genuine respect for our community.

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