Vice President Kamala Harris bungled a history lesson about the Juneteenth holiday Monday, telling kids that black people were enslaved in America for 400 years — overstating the actual time period by more than 150 years.
“I think that we all know today is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom,” Harris told a group of about two dozen elementary school-age children at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington. “And think about it in terms of the context of history, knowing that black people in America were not free for 400 years of slavery.”
“Let this be a day that is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom, but to speak about it honestly and accurately, both in the context of history and current application,” Harris went on during her apparently extemporaneous remarks.
The first African slaves in the American colonies arrived in 1619 in Virginia. Slavery was abolished through the 13th Amendment, which was ratified in 1865 — ending 246 years of the practice, not 400.
A White House official acknowledged Harris’ error, telling The Post that “the vice president was referring to 400 years since slavery began.”
Harris, the first vice president of partial African ancestry through her Jamaica-born father, also said the day was an opportunity to reflect on the nature of freedom. Juneteenth emerged from a Texas emancipation celebration and became a federal holiday last year.
“With the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War, it required America to really ask itself, who is free? How do we define freedom? Freedom in terms of the autonomy one should have? Is freedom given to us or are we born with freedom? Right?” Harris said.
“I would argue it is our God-given right to have freedom. It is your birthright to have freedom. And then during slavery, freedom was taken. And so we’re not going to celebrate being given back what God gave us anyway, right?”
“Amen!” a member of her audience said.
“We should think about it also in terms of current application, asking is everyone we know free?” Harris went on. “Do we know anyone who is not free? Around the world do all people have freedom? Are there those who are without freedom? When we talk about freedom, are we talking about freedom from — or are we talking about the freedom to?”
Original Article: Kamala Harris botches Juneteenth history lesson on slavery (nypost.com)