By Alex Lasry
Americans across the country will be celebrating Juneteenth this year for the second year as an official federal holiday. The establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday last year was a bright spot and the culmination of a long effort to get this done.
But if it were up to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, the recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday would have never happened.
Two years ago, Johnson was the only U.S. Senator to object to a bill establishing Juneteenth Day as an official federal holiday. His opposition stopped the bill from moving forward and delayed its passage by another year.
Last year, Johnson dropped his opposition, not because he supports making Juneteenth a federal holiday, but because he said that his opposition would not make any difference in stopping the bill again.
Johnson then showed up to last year’s Juneteenth celebration in Milwaukee, apparently expecting to be praised for dropping his opposition, but instead was met with a chorus of boos from the crowd who had not forgotten what he had done. He then complained to the media that people had been unjustly rude to him.
This is exactly who Ron Johnson is.
He single-handedly stops Juneteenth from becoming a national holiday, and then he plays the victim when people tell him they don’t appreciate what he did.
This incident was just one example of a twelve-year career in the United States Senate, where Ron Johnson has continuously worked to disenfranchise and demean Wisconsin’s people of color.
In the past year alone, we’ve seen Ron Johnson say that he wasn’t scared of the January 6th rioters but would have been if they had been peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.
He opposed the eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And he fought and helped block both the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act from becoming law.
That’s not what Wisconsinites want or what we deserve. We need elected leaders who will stand up and fight for every community, no matter the color of their skin, the religion they practice, or the person they love.
This Juneteenth, I’m celebrating the freedom it represents, but I’m also focused on how much we have to do to improve the future. We need to use this day to continue to confront the challenges our communities face that are still all too present and seek ways to ensure everyone gets the opportunity for a better life for themselves and their children.
I look forward to celebrating Juneteenth with the entire community, and then let’s get back to work on making this a more equitable and just society.