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Ben Carson reflects on Juneteenth: ‘To commemorate the emancipation of slaves is a wonderful thing’

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told “Bill Hemmer Reports” Friday that Juneteenth should become a national holiday.

“I think to commemorate the emancipation of slaves is a wonderful thing,” he said. “Providing freedom in our country, but also celebrating the hundreds of thousands of people who were of multiple different ethnicities who gave their lives in order that we could achieve that freedom in this country is a very significant, important step.”

Juneteenth, which falls on Friday, marks the anniversary of Union Major General Gordon Granger telling Texans of federal orders to end slavery. The holiday has garnered significant attention in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd.

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“I think we need to learn that we’re all in the same boat,” Carson told Hemmer. “And if part of the boat sinks, the rest of it goes down too. So we need to be concerned about each other, we need to recognize that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, including caring about your neighbor, loving your fellow man, having values and principles that guide your life, and if we reject those, then we end up replacing them with something else, and it’s unlikely to be as good as what we had,” he said.

On Friday, Carson tweeted that he celebrated Juneteenth with First Lady Melania Trump and others in Tampa, Fla.

On Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he would soon introduce a bipartisan bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. On Friday, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.Cory Booker, D-N.J., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tina Smith, D-Minn. announced they would introduce their own legislation to that effect.

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“The celebration of Juneteenth is about far more than remembering the day in 1865 when, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Texans were finally freed from the bondage of slavery,” Booker said in a statement.

“Juneteenth is about reclaiming our history, rejoicing in the progress we’ve made, and recommitting to the work yet undone. Our nation still has a long way to go to reckon with and overcome the dark legacy of slavery and the violence and injustice that has persisted after its end. Making Juneteenth a federal holiday represents a step forward in the journey of healing America is still taking.”

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