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Rock Hill's Norman 1 Of 14 In Congress To Vote Against Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday

Visitors check out a Juneenth festival in Charlotte's Independence Park in 2014.
Tasnim Shamma
Visitors check out a Juneenth festival in Charlotte's Independence Park in 2014.

A bill making Juneteenth as a federal holiday is headed to President Biden's desk after clearing the U.S. Senate and House with overwhelming support — but not from one Charlotte-area member of Congress.

Juneteenth, observed on June 19, celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. That was the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas finally learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier. In recent years, the holiday has become more widely recognized, with an increasing number of employers establishing it as a holiday for workers.

Legislation establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day passed the Senate unanimously and had near full support in the House this week, with 415 U.S. representatives voting in favor.

Republican Rep. Ralph Norman, who represents the Rock Hill, South Carolina, area, was one of just 14 House members on Wednesday who voted against the measure.

In a tweet, Norman called it "wholly inappropriate" to include the phrase "Independence Day" in the official name for a new federal holiday.

"Our Independence Day is July 4th," Norman tweeted. "Period."

Norman also said he was concerned about the impact a new federal holiday would have on government and private-sector workers and employers.

All five North Carolina House Democrats voted for the holiday, as did seven of the state’s GOP House members. Republican Patrick McHenry of North Carolina's 10th District was one of two members in Congress who didn’t vote.

Democratic Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte was one of the bill's sponsors.

"Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, of emancipation instead of dehumanization, of a message that made its way from Washington to Texas, freeing women and men upon its sight," Adams said on the House floor Wednesday. "It is our history, a reminder of deeds darker than death or night, and a debt unpaid that must still be made right.

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Dash joined WFAE as a digital editor for news and engagement in 2019. Before that, he was a reporter for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia, where he covered public safety and the military, among other topics. He also covered county government in Gaston County, North Carolina, for its local newspaper, the Gazette.
Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.