The Daily Show marked the occasion Thursday night with an explainer from correspondent Dulcé Sloan, as part of a new segment called “Dul-Sayin’.”
Host Trevor Noah introduced Sloan’s segment by noting that President Donald Trump, who initially planned a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa — the site of a horrific race massacre — acknowledged this week in a Wall Street Journal interview that he had didn’t know what Juneteenth was. Trump also said he polled people around him, and none of them knew what Juneteenth was, either.
“I don’t know why that’s surprising. Of course nobody around Trump had heard of Juneteenth,” Noah said.
“Look at the people he has around him. Mike Pence doesn’t even know what a cayenne pepper is. You think he’s going to know about black history?” Noah quipped, before acknowledging they are not alone, since many Americans don’t know what Juneteenth is.
Sloan then explained that, contrary to popular belief, Juneteenth doesn’t commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Rather, it would be two-and-a-half more years before Union General Gordon Granger freed the last slaves in Texas, on June 19, 1865.
“He’s an American hero, and he looks like the barista at my coffee shop,” Sloan said of Granger as his image flashed on the screen. “I’m going to have to thank him next time I order a macchiato.”
Sloan added that freeing slaves in Texas was particularly important since other states had shipped them there, knowing the state would be harder for Union soldiers to reach.
“It was blacker than a family reunion in Wakanda,” Sloan said of Texas. “They were basically treating Texas like the couch cushion you hide the weed in when the cops come.”
Sloan added that it would take several more months and the 13th Amendment before slaves were freed in some Union states.
“That’s right, there were Union states with slaves,” she said. “Imagine living in New Jersey and being a slave. That’s one civil rights violation on top of another.”
After playing clips from Juneteenth celebrations, Sloan proclaimed: “That’s why Juneteenth is my favorite independence day. It goes Juneteenth, Independence Day with Will Smith, then the Fourth of July. I’m not a fan of fireworks. It sounds like somebody’s doing a drive-by on the sky.”
Sloan concluded by calling for Juneteenth to become a national holiday, in part because people would get the day off.
“I don’t want to be stuck in an office in June,” she said. “Kevin keeps heating up fish in the microwave because he’s a pescatarian …”
Watch it below.