Vote now in the 2021 Best of San Antonio Readers Poll.

Friday, June 19, 2020

After Denying Systemic Racism Exists, John Cornyn Plans to File Bill Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 12:03 PM

click to enlarge Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday that he'll file a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday that he'll file a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who faced withering criticism this week for denying systemic racism is a problem, now says he plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth, celebrated every June 19, commemorates the day that news of the end of slavery reached Texas.



“As we do every year, tomorrow Texans will celebrate Juneteenth and the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery in our state,” Cornyn said during a floor speech Thursday.

Cornyn, who's up for reelection, isn't the only Texas lawmaker calling for Juneteenth to be a national holiday. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat, introduced a similar measure on Monday.

Where Cornyn differs from Lee, though — and there's no way to put this delicately — is that he doesn't exactly have a rep as an enlightened guy when it comes to matters of race.

The three-term incumbent made national headlines earlier this week for dismissing the idea that systemic racism is real during a Senate Judicial Committee hearing on police brutality.

His prickly exchange with former Justice Department official Vanita Gupta during that hearing prompted her to point out on Twitter that Cornyn — when he was Texas AG — gave a Lawman of the Year award to a corrupt Panhandle cop who ran a drug sting focused on putting away Black people.

What's more, Cornyn faced allegations of racism in March for claiming "Chinese culture" was to blame for the coronavirus pandemic. He appeared to base his theory on a debunked rumor that the outbreak began when someone ate bat soup.

Last month, State Sen. Royce West, who's in a Democratic runoff to challenge Cornyn, accused the incumbent's campaign of engaging in “dog whistle racism” by mocking him as “Restful Royce.” West, who's African American, said the nickname plays on stereotypes of Black people being lazy.

Cliff Walker, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, called Cornyn's proposed bill a "symbolic gesture."

"Juneteenth should be a national holiday, but if John Cornyn really wanted to address racial injustices, he would have to begin by acknowledging the existence of systemic racism in America's criminal justice system — something he refuses to do time and time again."

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

May 5, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Join SA Current Newsletters

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2021 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation