Vivek Ramaswamy, a GOP presidential candidate, sparked controversy by suggesting the cancellation of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved Black people, during a conversation with Iowa voters.
“Cancel Juneteenth or one of the other useless ones we made up,” Ramaswamy told an applauding crowd gathered at a welding company here.
Despite having posted a video just two months prior celebrating Juneteenth, Ramaswamy proposed replacing an "old" holiday with the new one in order to make space for a national voting holiday he was advocating for.
“What we celebrate is how far we’ve come. And as a first-generation American myself, you better believe I’m proud of it. Happy Juneteenth everybody,” he said.
Ramaswamy referred to Juneteenth as "useless," igniting a debate on the significance of the holiday. He had previously spoken positively about Juneteenth, expressing pride in how far the nation had come and recognizing the importance of the celebration.
When asked about Veterans Day or Memorial Day, Ramaswamy stated that he believed in preserving time-tested traditions, indicating inconsistency in his stance towards holidays. Juneteenth has been observed since 1866 and became a federal holiday in 2021. It marks the day when Union troops announced the emancipation of a quarter-million Black individuals in Texas in 1865.
Ramaswamy's comments were criticized by opponents and organizations like the NAACP, with former Rep. Will Hurd expressing disdain for Ramaswamy's apparent disregard for a holiday that symbolizes equality and freedom. The controversy highlighted the complex interplay of political perspectives and the historical significance of holidays like Juneteenth.
Link: NBC News