‘Read a history book’: Bill Nye is schooled online after claiming that Juneteenth was the day slavery ended in US – even though it was not abolished until six months later
- Bill Nye, 66, mistakenly said Juneteenth was the day slavery ended in the US Monday – and people s were quick to tell the TV educator that he was wrong
- Nye, known for his eponymous, educational 90s TV program ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy,’ made the assertion in a tweet Sunday afternoon
- The post saw the star attempt to ring in the holiday with some historical insight
- The date, made into a federal holiday by Joe Biden last year, commemorates the day it was announced that slaves were to be emancipated in the United States
- However, the anniversary is widely considered symbolic since several states still permitted slavery at that point, and were not formally freed until December 1865
- Science specialist Nye seemed painfully aware of that fact though, when he took to social media to observe the increasingly popular holiday
Bill Nye the ‘Science Guy’ mistakenly claimed Juneteenth was the day slavery ended in America – and internet users were quick to tell the famed TV educator to hit the history books.
Nye, known for his eponymous, educational 90s TV program, made the assertion in a tweet Sunday afternoon, in a post that saw the 66-year-old attempt to ring in the holiday with some historical insight.
The date, made into a federal holiday by President Biden last year, commemorates the day it was announced that slaves were to be emancipated in the US – June 19, 1865.
However, the anniversary is widely considered symbolic. Several states still permitted slavery at that point, and they were not formally freed until December 1865, when the 13th Amendment fully abolished the practice.
The date commemorates news of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years earlier by Abraham Lincoln, reaching Texas, by way of US Union General Gordon Granger.
But science specialist Nye, 66, seemed painfully aware of that fact when he took to social media to observe the increasingly popular holiday.
Bill Nye the ‘Science Guy’ mistakenly claimed Juneteenth was the day slavery ended in America Monday – and internet users were quick to tell the famed TV educator he was wrong
‘The United States we know today was built with the labor of enslaved Black Americans,’ Nye wrote Sunday, June 19, in a post that included a selfie of the star clutching a pocket-sized US Constitution.
‘The last were not freed (officially) until 19 June 1865,’ he went on to write. ‘Let us celebrate – and never forget.’
The statement sparked almost immediate backlash on social media, with a slew of users quick to point out that slavery was not fully abolished for another six months.
‘This is not accurate,’ one user wrote, moments after Nye shared the statement.
A slightly more cheeky observer told Nye to open the Constitution he had been clutching and fact-check his assertion.
‘Please open that and let us what date the 13th amendment was ratified into the constitution that ended slavery once and for all,’ the user wrote, adding, ‘Hint: it’s not June 19th.’
Others listed states that had yet to abolish slavery as of June 19, 1865, due to the fact they were not covered by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation roughly eight months before.
States not covered in the historic guidance included current President Biden’s home state of Delaware.
‘Too bad Bill Nye was wrong,’ a user wrote. ‘The last enslaved people weren’t freed until the 13th Amendment was ratified in December 1865.
‘The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t cover Kentucky, along with Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, & Missouri. Read a history book Bill.’
Another added: ‘Actually, the final slaves weren’t freed in Kentucky and Delaware ( @JoeBiden ’s home state) until the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.’
Someone else sniped: ‘Not exactly. You’re right about the economy being built on slavery, both north and south, but slavery didn’t end on Juneteenth.
‘It ended December 6, 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified. Slavery was STILL legal in the “northern” states of Delaware and Kentucky until that day.’
Another user pointed out how the day actually commemorates news of the emancipation and the end of the Civil war reaching Galveston, Texas, from General Granger, two-and-a-half years after the conflict was ended.
‘This is not true. Juneteenth doesn’t commemorate the 13th Amendment,’ the armchair historian wrote.’
‘It commemorates news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching Texas. Two union states had slavery until December 1865.’
Nye has yet to comment on the slew of corrections.
The ‘second Independence Day’: The 155-year push to make June 19th a federal holiday
Juneteenth has been considered America’s ‘second independence day’ since June 19, 1865, when Union Army General George Granger walked into Galveston and declared the last slaves in Texas free
Juneteenth, the day marking the emancipation of slaves in the US, was made a federal holiday last year.
President Joe Biden put pen to paper at the White House last June to sign the bill into law, with the second Juneteenth National Independence Day observed yesterday.
In the past, the day has been marked as ‘Emancipation Day’.
It is not clear how it came to be called Juneteenth National Independence Day, but Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said that America only ‘truly became the land of the free and the home of the brave’ when Union Army General George Granger freed the last saves in Texas in 1865.
When she introduced the bill in 2020, she said: ‘[Juneteenth] commemorates freedom while acknowledging the sacrifices and contributions made by courageous African Americans towards making our great nation the more conscious and accepting country that it has become.
‘It was only after that day in 1865, on the heels of the most devastating conflict in our country’s history, in the aftermath of a civil war that pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor and threatened to tear the fabric of our union apart forever, that America truly became the land of the free and the home of the brave.’
The bill passed through Congress, with only 14 Republicans rejecting the measure, citing ‘confusion’ with July 4, a left-wing ‘push for identity politics’ and there being too many federal holidays in the US already.
But Juneteenth has been considered America’s ‘second independence day’ since June 19, 1865, when Union Army General George Granger walked into Galveston and declared the last 250,000 slaves in Texas free.
Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery with the the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, but enforcing the law was dependent on whether the Union army could reach the
It has been celebrated annually and has gone through many iterations – including Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day.
Now it is a national holiday that has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
President Biden on Thursday said it was one of the ‘greatest honors’ of his presidency. He called slavery a ‘moral stain’ and the ‘original sin’ that still impacts the US today. VP Harris said it was important to ‘teach our children’ the part of American history.
WHAT IS JUNETEENTH? THE DAY THE LAST SLAVES WERE FREED IN TEXAS
Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19th, also is known as Emancipation Day.
It commemorates the day in 1865, after the Confederate states surrendered to end the Civil War, when a Union general arrived in Texas to inform the last group of enslaved African Americans of their freedom under President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
An Emancipation Day celebration in Austin, Texas, in 1900. Juneteenth has been celebrated annually and has gone through many iterations – including Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day. Now it is a national holiday that has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans
It came about two months after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered in Appomattox, Virginia.
Granger put the Emancipation Proclamation into effect and it became law. Since African-Americans have marked the day across the country and many states have followed by making it an official holiday.
Juneteenth activist Opal Lee was recognized by President Joe Biden at the White House celebration where the president made Juneteenth a federal holiday
In 1980, Texas became the first state to officially declare it a holiday. The passing of the bill is celebrated by a statue of State Rep. Al Edwards (D-Houston), who introduced the legislation in 1979.
It is now recognized in 46 other states and the District of Columbia. Major companies such as Twitter and Square have also marked it as a company day off and it is recognized by brands including Nike and Target.
Opal Lee, 94, the ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’, was at the White House signing alongside President Biden and VP Kamala Harris.
On June 19, 1939, when she was 12 years old, a white mob stormed her home in Marhsall, Texas, and burned it. When she retired as an elementary school teacher in 1977 and then dedicated her life to activism.
In 2016, she embarked on 1,400 mile walk from Fort Worth to Washington D.C. to urge the Obama administration to make June 19th a national holiday.
Although in part a celebration, the day is also observed solemnly to honor those who suffered during slavery in the United States with the arrival of the first enslaved Africans over 400 years ago.
Many cities across the country hold huge parades and festivals.
This year, Galveston will unveil a 5,000-square-foot memorial called ‘Absolute Equality’ on the spot where Granger told the slaves they were free.
WHAT MADE IT MORE SIGNIFICANT LAST YEAR AND HOW HAVE CALLS GROWN TO MAKE IT A FEDERAL HOLIDAY?
A statue of Texas State Rep. Al Edwards in Galveston, who introduced legislation in 1979 to make Juneteenth a holiday
Last year, Juneteenth coincided with global protests against racial injustice sparked by the May 25, 2020 death of Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody.
It also accompanied the coronavirus outbreak, which disproportionately affected communities of color. Donald Trump, who had already been under fire for his response to both crises, drew further criticism for scheduling a re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He since moved it to the next day.
Tulsa is an important and especially sensitive site where a white mob massacred African-American residents in 1921.
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the massacre, and helped the push for calls for reparations for victims.
Community organizations nationwide devoted the day to discussions on policing and civil rights ahead of the November election.
HOW DO PEOPLE MARK THE DAY? WIDESPREAD MARCHES AND PARADES
People marked the 155th anniversary across the country with festive meals and gatherings. While many cities canceled annual parades because of the pandemic, other groups opted for virtual conferences or smaller events.
In Washington, groups planed marches, protests and rallies. Amid the wave of racial justice protests, some U.S. businesses committed to a change of policies, including recognition of the holiday.
Among the companies that announced they will recognize Juneteenth as a paid company holiday are the National Football League, The New York Times, Twitter and Square.
People pose in front of the Al Edwards statue in Galveston on June 19, 2020