Hear Stacey Abrams’ powerful op-ed for Juneteenth.
Just more than half of Americans said they knew about Juneteenth, a date commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., and even more – two-thirds – support making it a holiday, according to The Harris Poll.
President Trump took credit Thursday for making Juneteenth “very famous” after postponing until Saturday a politically rally in Tulsa, Okla.
However, this new Harris Poll, out Friday, found that 22% of Americans said they were “very” aware of the date, while 30% said they were “somewhat” aware, according to the poll of a nationally representative survey of 1,963 U.S. adults was taken June 13-15.
One-third (33%) were “not at all aware,” and 15% were “not very aware,” according to the findings.
Juneteenth marks the date – June 19, 1865 – when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared “that all persons held as slaves” had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation issued in September of 1862 and effective Jan. 1, 1863. Some enslavers ignored the order until the Union troops arrived to enforce it, according to Juneteenth.com.
Black people or African Americans are more likely than whites and Asian or Pacific Islanders to be aware of Juneteenth – 69%, compared to 48% and 49%, respectively, the survey found.
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In the days leading up to Juneteenth this year, many companies including Twitter, Nike and the National Football League announced plans to begin observing the date with a paid holiday.
When asked whether they supported companies making Juneteenth a holiday, 66% said they supported doing so, compared to 34% in opposition. Black people and African Americans were more likely than others to support Juneteenth becoming a holiday with 84% in approval. In comparison, 67% of Hispanics responded in support with whites (61%) and Asian or Pacific Islanders (60%).
Gen Xers were most likely (81%) to support the paid holiday initiative, followed by GenZ and millennials with 73% approval, Boomers (58%) and seniors (45%).
The growing attention to Juneteenth is welcome and timely and can help the nation move forward, says Rick Wade, vice president of strategic alliance and outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It is a very defining date in our country’s history, the meaning, the observance of that this year is a lot more impactful and necessary that we all engage in this reflection,” he said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday will conduct a National Summit on Equality of Opportunity to “look at how we can bring solutions and real action,” Wade said. “When you see the rich diversity of the protesters and companies and community organizations all coalescing around change, I really believe it feels different and we will see actionable solutions in closing, or at least lessening, the inequalities in society.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
To remember Juneteenth, USA TODAY staff members read an excerpt of the Emancipation Proclamation.
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