Senate bills would ban Confederate flag from Michigan Capitol, declare Juneteenth as official state holiday


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State Sen. Sylvia Santana introduced bills Tuesday to ban the Confederate flag from the state Capitol and declare Juneteenth an official state holiday.

The Detroit Democrat’s bills come after protesters carried the Confederate flag at anti-lockdown demonstrations at the state Capitol last year.

“The Confederate Flag is synonymous with hatred and racism and solely used to intimidate, all of which have no place at our Capitol,” Santana said in a statement. “Historically sighted at lynchings and anti-civil rights marches, this flag has more recently been seen at white supremacist rallies and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. It’s past time for us to ban it from our State Capitol, which is a place that should represent free speech and debate by all.”

Sen. Sylvia Santana. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Sen. Sylvia Santana.

Santana’s other bill would make Juneteenth an official state holiday. Most states, including Michigan, recognize Juneteenth, but not as an official government holiday. Michigan has 11 official holidays.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that a union general notified enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. The announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

“The ending of this dark period of our nation’s history should be celebrated,” Santana said in a statement. “But it should also serve as a somber reminder that Black and Brown people in America continue to feel the vestiges of this barbaric system, and we still have a long way to go to end systemic racism and ensuring equal rights for all.”

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