CNN opinion writer Peniel Joseph argued Friday that Juneteenth is just as much "America's true birthday" as the Fourth of July.
Joseph, a social justice activist and University of Texas at Austin professor, said the June 19 holiday "matters now more than ever," claiming that former president Donald Trump and the Republican Party are causing "fear, anger, and anxiety about Black citizenship."
Few people knew about Juneteenth, which commemorates the 1865 date on which slaves in Texas learned they were free, until mainstream media in 2020 blasted Trump for holding a rally on the day. Trump later postponed his rally "out of respect." Juneteenth last year became a federal holiday thanks to historic Republican-sponsored legislation.
Joseph particularly took issue with a Florida bill that bans schools from teaching that "members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior," which he said prevents students from learning about systemic racism. He also repeated the popular and incorrect talking point that "so-called critical race theory" is a "made-up controversy." Schools across the country have taught critical race theory, which prioritizes race as a lens for looking at the world, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Joseph is not the only public figure to promote alternatives to American traditions. The NFL committed last year to playing a "black national anthem," the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing," before the U.S. national anthem at football games.
Joseph did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment.