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Bill Nye the “Science Guy” caused a stir on social media when he posted about America’s founding and slavery.
“The United States we know today was built with the labor of enslaved Black Americans,” he said on Sunday, June 19, which is federally recognized as Juneteenth.
Bill Nye attends “The End Is Nye” Premiere during 2022 Tribeca Festival at SVA Theater on June 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)
With a pocket Constitution and a simple selfie, Nye added: “The last were not freed (officially) until 19 June 1865. Let us celebrate— and never forget.”
The post almost immediately sparked a backlash as several users disagreed that Juneteeth ended slavery.
This is not true. Juneteenth doesn’t commemorate the 13th Amendment. It commemorates news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching Texas. Two union states had slavery until December 1865.
— InvestingLegend (@Investinglegend) June 20, 2022
Too bad Bill Nye was wrong.
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.
— CatsFanInOhio 🇺🇦 (@michaeldf88) June 20, 2022
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
— J. D. Peterson (@JakePeterson32) June 19, 2022
Please open that and let us what date the 13th amendment was ratified into the constitution that ended slavery once and for all.
Hint: it’s not June 19th…..
— Mommar (@MisterCommodity) June 20, 2022
June 19th commemorates the day that U.S. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 — and shared the news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been passed two years earlier. The Civil War had ended two months before June 1865.
Last year, Juneteenth became the nation’s 12th federal holiday through a 415-14 vote in the House of Representatives.
President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 17, 2021.
While the date is symbolic of emancipation — and is often called a “Second Independence Day” — several states still permitted slavery to continue.
Several other users disagreed that the United States was exclusively built “with the labor of enslaved Black Americans” as Native Americans, as well as migrants from Europe, South and Central America, Africa, Australia and Asia also assisted in constructing the country.
I believe you may exaggerate a bit on the building America part, but you’re right on target about when legal slavery ended in the United States.
— John Sweeney (@johnsweeney15) June 20, 2022
So as an immigrant to this country, I haven’t contributed to building this country? And the countless others like me? How about the backs of the countless immigrants that “contributed” to this country? Do we all count?
— Miguel Taveras (@Migtav) June 20, 2022
Slaves were formally freed when the 13th Amendment was passed in December 1865, six months after Juneteenth.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the U.S., or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the Thirteenth Amendment reads.
Bill Nye speaks onstage at the Global Citizen NOW Summit at Spring Studios on May 23, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
It should be noted that instances of slavery were found after the amendment was ratified and human trafficking, which is described as forced labor, continues to this day.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands believed to be in the United States.
The ILO, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of State as an official record keeper, reported 10,583 cases of human trafficking in the United States last year and 73,946 cases since 2007.