Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Wednesday put forth a plan to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth, Fox News reports.
Johnson and Lankford rolled out their proposal as an amendment to bipartisan legislation introduced last month by Sen. John Cornyn, (R-Texas), who is leading the effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“In response to a bipartisan effort to give federal workers another day of paid leave by designating Juneteenth a federal holiday, we have offered a counterproposal that does not put us further in debt,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “We support celebrating emancipation with a federal holiday, but believe we should eliminate a current holiday in exchange. We chose Columbus Day as a holiday that is lightly celebrated, and least disruptive to Americans’ schedules.”
Meanwhile, Columbus statues around the country have been vandalized or toppled by protesters, or removed by local leadership.
Columbus Day was first recognized in 1892 by President Benjamin Harrison to push back against the fierce prejudice and widespread violence Italian Americans faced at the time. The mass lynching of 11 Italian Americans in New Orleans in 1891 prompted the creation of the holiday.
The statues and parades symbolize unity and a fight against discrimination, and we refuse to have this history erased.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers finally reached more than 200,000 African-Americans in Texas to tell them they were free.
This historic event should absolutely become a federal holiday, but not at the expense of Columbus Day.
We ask that ISDA members reach out to their elected officials at the city, state and federal levels to push back against these initiatives that aim to wipe away celebrations that honor and uplift the Italian American culture.