WASHINGTON — James Cannon, entertainer Nick Cannon’s father and vice president of the Nick Cannon Foundation, said President Donald Trump would likely make Juneteenth a federal holiday if African American groups “mobilize” for a “strong” outreach effort to the White House and Congress.
In January of 2018, President Trump signed H.R. 1242, the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act. Nick Cannon has been named National Ambassador of the commission. Members of the commission include Dr. Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King.
Cannon explained that there was a “strong push” to make Juneteenth a federal holiday when former President Barack Obama was in office but it didn’t work out. Cannon said the Nick Cannon Foundation would work with the commission on making it a holiday and he’s optimistic that it could happen before the 2020 election.
“I think if we mobilize right in saying the right things that this president, a lot of people might disagree with me, but I think that President Trump would do something powerful, maybe sign an executive order and sign it into law. I think if we asked him powerfully enough, I think that could be done — get it done,” Cannon said during an exclusive interview at the National Press Club. “I don’t know why it wasn’t done in 2015 because to my understanding there was a strong push to get Juneteenth to become a federal holiday then but it didn’t happen so I think we have to make it happen this year with this being the 400-year commemoration.”
Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, the day that the abolition of slavery in Texas was announced.
“I think the commission should work along with the Juneteenth organizations to do all we can do to galvanize our people to make a loud cry that it’s unacceptable that this hasn’t already been made a holiday and we want this to become a holiday at once — whatever has to be done and whoever we have to talk to. Juneteenth is about the celebration of when it was announced, two years later, that we were free after being in slavery for 244 years,” Cannon said. “I think Dr. King’s birthday is a powerful, powerful holiday for us but I think Juneteenth, possibly, should have came before that.”
The African-American History Commission was established “to plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities throughout the United States; to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African- Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and to encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, economic, and other organizations throughout the United States to organize and participate in anniversary activities to expand understanding and appreciation.”
Cannon said Trump’s signing of the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act was “very monumental because it gives us the opportunity to tell our story across the country.”