GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy contradicted himself on the campaign trail, calling Juneteenth “useless” even though in June he celebrated the national holiday that marks the end of slavery. This is the conservative’s latest provocative statement toward Black Americans.
NBC News reports that Ramaswamy, speaking to a cheering crowd in Iowa, presented his proposal to cancel one holiday and replace it with a national voting day.
“Cancel Juneteenth or one of the other useless ones we made up,” Ramaswamy said, according to NBC News.
Yet, on June 19, the tech entrepreneur wished everyone “a happy Juneteenth,” in a social media video.
“What we celebrate is how far we’ve come. And as a first-generation American myself, you better believe I’m proud of it. Happy Juneteenth everybody,” he said, adding that, as a new holiday, Juneteenth shouldn’t be “about grievance & self-flogging. Let it be a celebration of the American Dream itself.”
Ramaswamy told NBC News that he “basically” believes that Juneteenth is a “useless” holiday.
He said Juneteenth is “redundant” because it overlaps with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day, adding that Juneteenth was made a holiday out of “political duress” after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 by former White Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed the bill, which passed in both the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support, that made Juneteenth a federal holiday. The holiday commemorates the moment on June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas with news of freedom – nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Black Americans.
Ramaswamy launched his presidential campaign in February on Fox News and wasted no time throwing raw meat to conservatives hungry to win the White House. That evening, Ramaswamy wrote in a social media post that ending affirmative action would be at the top of his agenda if elected president.
In April, Ramaswamy appeared on CNN and lectured the network’s former anchor Don Lemon on Black history, saying that “Black people secured their freedoms after the Civil War … only after their Second Amendment (gun rights) were secured.”
Ramaswamy repeated a debunked false claim that the National Rifle Association (NRA) played a “big role” in securing those freedoms.
Lemon fired back: “You are discounting a whole host of things that happened after the Civil War when it comes to African Americans, including the whole reason that the Civil Rights Movement happened is because Black people did not secure their freedoms after the Civil War.”