Listen to this article here
The Black Wall Street Times

Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Timesdaily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.

Tennessee lawmakers have voted to make Juneteenth an official paid state holiday, sending the bill to Gov. Bill Lee (R) for official signing.

The Tennessee House voted 61-18 Thursday on House Bill 0317, which makes June 19, known as Juneteenth, an official paid state holiday. The State Senate voted in favor last month of the official designation, now sending the bill to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to pen.

The bill’s passage comes at a time when Tennessee lawmakers have faced national scrutiny for their treatment of Black House members.

In 2021, Juneteenth was made the nation’s 11th federal holiday. Juneteenth is a day recognizing the emancipation of enslaved Black people in the U.S. 

Nearly half of the states in the U.S. recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday, with others declaring a “special observance” or other types of unofficial celebrations.

(The nation’s largest Juneteenth celebration in Black Wall Street, Greenwood, Oklahoma 2021. Photo by Chris Creese for The Black Wall Street Times)

Tennessee Lawmakers Go From Fire to Fire 

The past few months for Tennessee lawmakers have been filled with self-inflicted controversy after controversy.

In March during a Criminal Justice Subcommittee, State Representatives suggested bringing back hanging as a form of execution.

“Thank you Representative Powers for bringing this, I think it’s a very good idea,” Rep. Paul Sherrell  said. “I was just wondering about – could I put an amendment on that that would include hanging by a tree also? And also I would like to sign on to your bill sir.”

Juneteenth may pass in Tennessee, but consistent party tensions suggest deep divisions will persist

After a school shooting that left seven people dead, including three nine year olds, State Rep. Tim Burchett (R) said school shootings are something “we’re not gonna fix.”

“It’s a horrible, horrible situation,” Burchett said. “And we’re not gonna fix it. Criminals are gonna be criminals.”

Three Tennessee lawmakers, dubbed the “Tennessee Three”, were put up for an expulsion vote after they joined thousands of protesters at the State Capitol in a protest for stricter gun laws. Two of the “Tennessee Three” members were expelled from the House, while one member survived the vote. The two that were expelled were Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones, both young Black men. Both members were then reappointed to the House by their local councils on an interim basis.

Recently, an ignored sexual harassment scandal involving State Rep. Scotty Campbell became public, causing the lawmaker to immediately resign. Rep. Campbell submitted his letter of resignation to GOP leadership just hours after News Channel 5 Investigates uncovered the sexual assault scandal involving interns.

All of this has happened in Tennessee state legislation within the last two months.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply