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Opinion: We cannot move past slavery’s history without trying to make amends
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Ninth Congressional District Rep. Andrew Clyde was in the news three times last week: for his vote against the awarding of Congressional Gold Medals for police officers who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6; for his refusal to shake the hand of one of those officers; and, finally, for his vote against the establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday. Who is this man? 

I’ll focus on just one of his actions: his vote against the establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday. Clyde was one of only 14 lawmakers out of 435 who voted against this act. Why? His statement was that he didn’t like the name, Juneteenth National Independence Day, because July 4th is already recognized as America’s Independence Day. Considering that thousands of people were enslaved on July 4, 1776, the full name of the new holiday is appropriate, indicating that on June 19, 1865, all Americans were free. 

Many Americans, perhaps Clyde among them, are simply tired of hearing about the plight of African Americans in this country. Maybe they see the declaration of this holiday as one more development that gives undue importance to African American history and puts a guilt trip on White people. 

When it suits our purposes, we humans often choose to avoid facing difficult facts. Many are unwilling to take to heart the crimes against humanity perpetrated in our beloved country, the country that prides itself on being a beacon of freedom. Truly all White Americans, progressive and conservative alike, are incapable of understanding the enormity of the crimes and the ongoing effects of them. Our history is too big for us to comprehend. But the good news is that more and more Americans are choosing to see that we cannot simply put the past behind us and move on without trying to make amends. 

We can still love our country. We can forgive our country, but only by moving forward with efforts to right the wrongs that were committed and are still being committed. If Rep. Clyde cannot join in these efforts, he should not be reelected in 2022.

Priscilla Wilson

Sautee Nacoochee

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