Texas GOP leaders pressured a book event examining the role of slavery in the Battle of the Alamo to abruptly shut down

greg abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • A book event in Texas was canceled because of pressure from GOP leaders in the state.
  • “Forget the Alamo” says the history behind the battle has for generations left out important motives like preserving slavery.
  • The event was canceled with just four hours to go, despite counting 300 RSVPs, per the Texas Tribune.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The authors of a book that looks at the role of slavery in the Battle of the Alamo said they felt pressured to cancel a promotional event because GOP leaders in Texas complained about it.

The event was expected to happen Thursday evening at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Texas Tribune reported. But museum organizers canceled it with less than four hours to go, citing pressure from Republican lawmakers in Texas to do so.

“The Bullock was receiving increased pressure on social media about hosting the event, as well as to the museum’s board of directors (Gov Abbott being one of them) and decided to pull out as a co-host all together,” Penguin Random House said in a statement reported by the Tribune.

Gov. Greg Abbott did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on Twitter he called for the event’s cancellation.

“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” Patrick said. “This fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum.”

In response, Chris Tomlinson, one of the book’s authors, accused Patrick of “oppressing free speech and policing thought in Texas.”

“@BullockMuseum proves it is a propaganda outlet,” Tomlinson said on Twitter. “As for his fact-free comment, well, a dozen people professional historians disagree.”

The Bullock did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The event for the book, called “Forget the Alamo,” had counted 300 RSVPs, according to the Tribune.

The book examines the way the Battle of the Alamo is taught and concludes that important parts of the story have for generations been left out of the narrative.

“Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos-Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels-scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over,” a description of the book from Penguin Random House says. “As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness.”

The Texas Tribune noted that the book has received largely positive reviews from acclaimed media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

The event’s cancellation comes amid a wave of conservative backlash against critical race theory. Florida banned the teaching of critical race theory in public schools last month and other states have taken or are taking similar measures. GOP leaders have labeled critical race theory a “dangerous ideology,” arguing it twists the facts of US history.

In Texas, GOP legislators are waging the same war.

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GOP congressman lashes out at Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday: ‘Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians?’

Ralph Norman
Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina.

  • Rep. Ralph Norman criticized the creation of a federal holiday for Juneteenth.
  • “How many holidays do we want?” he asked. “Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians?”
  • Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers delivered news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Wednesday, the House voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the nation’s newest federal holiday.

Since the bill was previously passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, it headed to President Joe Biden, who on Thursday swiftly signed the legislation into law.

GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, one of 14 Republicans who voted against the legislation, took to Fox News Radio on Thursday to explain his opposition, saying that the vote “was an easy no vote” and questioned if a holiday would now have to be established for Native Americans as well.

During the program “Fox Across America with Jimmy Failla,” Norman also cited the number of existing holidays in detailing his rejection of a federal holiday for Juneteenth, while alleging that supporters were using “race” as an issue.

“There’s one Fourth of July. There’s one birthday … Independence Day is Fourth of July. And I had a lot of negativity on it. But this was an easy ‘no’ vote,” he said. “The fact that they would try to make race a part of it, it had nothing to do with race.”

He added: “How many holidays do we want? What’s the magic number? This would put it to eleven. Do we want twenty? Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians? I mean, where does it stop?”

Read more: What we learned about Joe Biden from riding Amtrak with a Senate colleague who has known the president for five decades

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers delivered news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the end of the Civil War and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth is the first national holiday that has been established in the US since the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in 1983.

“All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” Biden said at a ceremony at the White House on Thursday. “I said a few weeks ago, marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments of the past. They embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away.”

He emphasized: “We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And in remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”

At the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris also reaffirmed the historical significance of the Juneteenth.

“We are footsteps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation,” she said. “We have come far and we have far to go, but today is a day of celebration. It is not only a day of pride. It is also a day for us to reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to action.”

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House passes bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday and sends it to Biden’s desk to be signed into law

Juneteenth 2019 Milwaukee Wisconsin
A 2019 Juneteenth parade in Milwaukee.

  • The House on Wednesday passed a bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
  • June 19 marks the day people who were enslaved in the US were emancipated.
  • The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday, and it now heads over to Biden’s desk for his signature.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The House on Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation to make June 19, known as Juneteenth, a national holiday celebrating the emancipation of people who were enslaved in the US.

The bill passed by 415-14 vote, with all votes against it coming from Republicans.

“It has been a long journey,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Houston and author of the bill, said on the floor. “This bill and this day is about freedom.”

The bill passed the Senate 24 hours earlier, winning unanimous support on Tuesday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law ahead of this weekend’s annual celebration.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, had been vocally opposed to the legislation, saying that it was too costly to give federal employees another day off work. But he ended his blockade of the bill on Tuesday, which allowed the Senate to move forward.

In the House Wednesday, Republican objections largely focused on process, with speakers complaining about the bill being fast-tracked without sufficient committee input. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, objected to the name of the bill, the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” saying that it was “coopting” the Fourth of July. But he added that he supported it regardless.

Democrats, meanwhile, linked the creation of the holiday to fights for social justice.

“It’s also a recognition that we have so much work to do to rid this country of systemic racism, discrimination, and hate,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from Detroit, said. “Juneteenth, what we are doing today, should empower us to fight even harder every single day for criminal-justice reform, for racial equality, and for economic empowerment of Black people in America.”

Juneteenth will become the US’s 11th federal holiday. The last one, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was added to the calendar nearly 40 years ago. The legislation will give federal employees a day off, and private companies are expected to follow suit.

On the campaign trail last year, Biden publicly commemorated the holiday by tweeting: “#Juneteenth reminds us of how vulnerable our nation is to being poisoned by systems and acts of inhumanity-but it’s also a reminder of our ability to change.

“Together, we can lay the roots of real and lasting justice, and become the extraordinary nation that was promised to all.”

Juneteenth, which has been celebrated since the late 1800s, comemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced that the region’s 250,0000 enslaved African Americans had been emancipated, thus ending slavery in the last Confederate territory.

The day came two years after President Abraham Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation and a few months after Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery and “involuntary servitude,” except as punishment for a crime.

“It’s long overdue to be recognized as a federal holiday,” Rep. Randy Weber, a Republican who represents Galveston, said Wednesday. “Juneteenth reminds us of the freedom so bravely defended by so many Americans,”

He added that it “reminds us we have a ways to go.”

Calls to make Juneteenth a national holiday, which has been in the works for years, gained momentum last year amid the nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a white Minneapolis police officer.

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The Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a national holiday celebrating the end of slavery

People put their fists in the air as Lift Every Voice and Sing is performed at the intersection of H St NW and 16th Street NW near the White House, an area renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, while celebrating the Juneteenth holiday June 19, 2020
People put their fists in the air as Lift Every Voice and Sing is performed at the intersection of H St NW and 16th Street NW near the White House, an area renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, while celebrating the Juneteenth holiday June 19, 2020.

  • The Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to pass legislation that would make Juneteenth a national holiday.
  • The bill was only able to pass after Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, ended his efforts to block it.
  • The bipartisan bill needs to be passed by the House and signed by President Joe Biden before it becomes law.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to pass legislation that would make June 19th, known as Juneteenth, a national holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the US.

The bipartisan bill, authored by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Republican Sen. John Cornyn, will need to be passed by the House and signed by President Joe Biden before it becomes law, but the Senate’s vote marks a significant step forward in the years-long legislative effort.

“Happy that my bill to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday just passed the Senate. It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years,” Cornyn tweeted on Tuesday. “Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union.”

The bill was only able to pass after Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, ended his efforts to block it, conceding on Tuesday that few of his colleagues have an “appetite” to debate the issue. Johnson argued that it was too costly to give federal government employees an additional day off and has suggested the government remove a federal holiday in exchange for Juneteenth.

No senator objected to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request for unanimous consent, despite several Republican senators’ previously stated opposition to the legislation.

The Juneteenth holiday celebrates June 19, 1865, when a union general informed African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that they had been emancipated from slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The day has been celebrated since the late 1800s. In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday, and now the vast majority of states recognize the day.

Federal lawmakers’ efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday gained significantly more momentum last year amid the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer.

There are a total of 10 existing federal holidays in the US, which amounts to far fewer annual paid days off than the US’s peer countries provide. It’s been almost 40 years since the federal government created the last national holiday: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A federally recognized Juneteenth holiday would only technically apply to government employees, but private organizations often follow suit and give their workers the day off. A slew of private employers, including major corporations, made the day a paid holiday beginning last year.

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Fox News contributor praises America for ‘relatively short’ history of slavery

George Murdoch argued on Fox News that American slavery existed for a 'relatively short' amount of time.
George Murdoch argued on Fox News that American slavery existed for a ‘relatively short amount of time.’

  • George “Tyrus” Murdoch downplayed America’s history of slavery while discussing critical race theory.
  • Murdoch argued that America was able to “to get slavery out of the way” in a “relatively short amount of time.”
  • It’s unclear what Murdoch’s argument about the length of slavery in America has to do with anti-racist education.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fox News personality George Murdoch downplayed America’s history of slavery while arguing during a Fox News appearance on Wednesday that critical race theory shouldn’t be taught in elementary and high schools.

“As far as teaching our multicultural classrooms about race in this country, I think we need to start where we’re at and acknowledge our history. But when you look at slavery in this country opposed to the world, 400 years is still too long, but at the same time other countries dealt with it for thousands of years, where America was able to get it — in a relatively short amount of time in terms of our history — to get slavery out of the way.” ” he said on the daytime news show “America’s Newsroom.”

It took the US almost 100 years after signing the Declaration of Independence — and a civil war — to abolish slavery. Slaves were first brought to Virginia in 1619 and made up a significant portion of the US population for about 250 years.

Critical race theory emerged out of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s and holds that many American laws and systems are structurally racist and that most people of color suffer from racism on a daily basis.

It’s unclear what Murdoch’s argument about the length of slavery in America has to do with the anti-racist theory.

Republicans have aggressively campaigned against the Biden administration efforts to encourage schools to teach students about the history of slavery and its impacts, including systemic racism.

Biden hasn’t proposed any changes to school curricula, but conservative state legislatures across the country have moved to ban critical race theory, which they call a “Marxist doctrine,” from being taught in public schools. They’ve also opposed The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project being taught to students.

Former President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have leaned into the campaign, attempting to fuel anger among the party’s base. Fox has heavily covered the topic, often celebrating the backlash against anti-racist teachings. A Fox spokesperson didn’t immediately provide comment to Insider.

Murdoch, who was formerly a professional wrestler known as “Tyrus,” was accused of sexual harassment in 2019 by his former Fox co-host Britt McHenry. McHenry, then a Fox Nation host, sued Fox News for retaliation after she accused Murdoch of sexual misconduct. After she brought her allegations to Fox executives, Murdoch was promoted to host his own show on the network’s streaming service.

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1619 Project creator responds to McConnell’s effort to block its teachings in public schools: He’s saying ‘the truth is too difficult’ for America to bear

Nikole Hannah-Jones
The New York Times Magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

  • 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones rebuts McConnell’s argument that its words are “divisive.”
  • McConnell and 38 Senate Republicans want to bar the project from being taught in public schools.
  • “He’s saying that the truth is too difficult for apparently our nation to bear,” Hannah-Jones said of McConnell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones on Tuesday responded to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push to remove the project, which was launched on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves to what would become the United States, from federal grant programs.

The project, which was published by The New York Times Magazine in 2019, examines the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans throughout the nation’s history, drawing the ire of conservatives who have sought to ban the body of work from being taught in schools.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the Kentucky Republican and 38 members of his Senate GOP caucus outlined their opposition to the Department of Education developing updated history curricula, alleging that the content is “divisive.”

“This is a time to strengthen the teaching of civics and American history in our schools,” the letter says. “Instead, your Proposed Priorities double down on divisive, radical, and historically-dubious buzzwords and propaganda.”

The letter added: “Americans do not need or want their tax dollars diverted from promoting the principles that unite our nation toward promoting radical ideologies meant to divide us.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” with host Joy Reid, Hannah-Jones rebuts McConnell’s argument that the project perpetuates “a drumbeat of revisionism and negativity,” while also responding to his claim that 1619 was not one of the most important years in US history.

“I don’t know how you teach about 1865 without acknowledging that 1619 was an important year being that 1865 occurs began we began slavery in 1619,” she said, referring to the end of the Civil War in her dialogue. “So when you hear people like him saying that teaching the actual facts of American history are divisive, maybe that’s because we have a divisive history in this country.”

She added: “He’s not arguing that we shouldn’t teach the truth. He’s just saying that the truth is too difficult for apparently our nation to bear and that we’re far too fragile to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the truth.”

Read more: Here’s how Biden is reshaping gender and reproductive rights with policies that are even more progressive than past Democratic presidents

Hannah-Jones said that the legacy of slavery has been an enduring part of the nation’s history, which can’t simply be dismissed.

“The entire argument of the 1619 Project is that slavery pre-dates almost every other American institution,” she said. “That means that it is foundational and embedded in our culture.”

During a CNN appearance earlier this week, Hannah-Jones argued that the national GOP push to ban the 1619 Project in public schools “is fundamentally a free speech issue.”

“It’s not about the facts of history – it’s about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas they don’t like,” she said.

Former President Donald Trump, who implemented a “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education” last year, sought to whip up conservative opposition to the 1619 Project.

Trump’s commission was quickly disbanded by President Joe Biden upon taking office, but not before they released a report saying that the history of slavery in America had been distorted.

Despite the GOP criticism, patriotism is a core theme of the opening 1619 Project essay, written by Hannah-Jones, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the project in 2020.

In her essay, “America Wasn’t a Democracy Until Black Americans Made It One,” Hannah-Jones argued that Black Americans have been some of the most valiant fighters for American ideals.

“Despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed,” she wrote. “Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals. And not only for ourselves – black rights struggles paved the way for every other rights struggle, including women’s and gay rights, immigrant and disability rights.”

She added: “Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different – it might not be a democracy at all.”

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Louisiana state lawmaker suggests that schools should teach the ‘good’ of slavery

Louisiana State Capitol
The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

  • La. state Rep. Ray Garofalo said that public schools should teach the “good” and “bad” of slavery.
  • His suggestion was immediately dismissed by fellow GOP state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty.
  • Garofalo backs legislation that would prevent teaching that the US or Louisiana is “systematically racist or sexist.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP state Rep. Ray Garofalo of Louisiana on Tuesday said that public schools and colleges should teach the “good” of slavery during discussions about race, as part of a bill that he proposed that would bar “divisive concepts” from classrooms.

Garofalo, who chairs the House Education Committee, said during a hearing on the bill, also known as HB 564, that his legislation sought to remove “politics out of the classroom” and cultivate “a learning environment free of discrimination.”

When Garofalo began to explain how slavery could be taught in the classroom, his comments elicited derision.

“If you’re having a discussion on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery, the good, the bad, the ugly,” he said.

His suggestion was immediately dismissed by fellow GOP state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty.

“There’s no good to slavery, though,” she said.

Read more: This millennial GOP congressman voted to impeach Trump. Now he’s trying to save his party from going off a cliff.

Garofalo’s bill would have barred teaching that the US or Louisiana is “systematically racist or sexist,” among other requirements for exploring such issues in classroom discussions.

The bill would also ban the instruction of information that “teaches, advocates, acts upon or promotes divisive concepts.”

On Tuesday, the proposal stalled, but Garofalo was optimistic about rewriting some of the language in order to gain the support of some skeptical Republicans.

However, a bipartisan group of committee members asked Garofalo not to bring back the bill during the current legislative session, according to the Associated Press.

“I’m not sure that we can get this bill in the correct posture this session,” said GOP state Rep. Barbara Freiberg.

Democratic state Rep. Gary Carter slammed the legislation as “a bad bill.”

The Louisiana Democratic Party, which shared a video of Garofalo on their Twitter account, rebuked his statements on slavery.

“The low point of session undoubtedly came today when Rep. Ray Garofalo said Louisiana schools need to teach the good of slavery,” the party wrote.

The legislation comes as Republicans across the country have pushed back against critical race theory, which seeks to explore how generations of inequality and racism still reverberate in American society.

Garofalo argued that critical race theory “furthers racism and fuels hate.”

When asked what specific problems have arisen in Louisiana regarding such teachings, Garofalo said that he’s heard “concerns” from various teachers and parents, but declined to provide any names, according to the Associated Press.

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‘Slavery ended over 130 years ago:’ Former NFL player Herschel Walker says Black Americans shouldn’t get reparations

Herschel Walker
Former NFL player Herschel Walker.

  • Herschel Walker said during a US House hearing that Black Americans should not receive reparations.
  • “Reparations teach separation,” Walker argued. “Slavery ended over 130 years ago.”
  • The Democratic-led House is poised to create a commission to study reparation proposals.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Former NFL player Herschel Walker last Wednesday said that Black Americans should not receive reparations for slavery during a congressional hearing on the issue. 

The virtual hearing was being held for House Resolution 40, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, which would create a commission to study reparation proposals.

Walker, a standout athlete at the University of Georgia who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 before launching a longtime professional football career, said that reparations could force Black Americans to use genetics companies to determine payouts based on their ancestry and while also claiming that some Black Americans had involvement in the slave trade.

“We use Black power to create white guilt,” he argued. “My approach is biblical…how can I ask my Heavenly Father to forgive me if I can’t forgive my brother? America is the greatest country in the world for me, a melting pot of a lot of great races, a lot of great minds that have come together with different ideas to make Americans the greatest country on Earth.”

He added: “Many have died trying to get into America. No one is dying trying to get out.”

Walker, a longtime friend of former President Donald Trump and a featured speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention, then launched into the practicality of making reparation payments.

“Reparations, where does the money come from?,” he asked the House Judiciary Committee subcommittee. “Does it come from all the other races except the Black taxpayers? Who is Black? What percentage of Black must you be to receive reparations? Do you go to 23andMe or a DNA test to determine the percentage of blackness? Some Black immigrants weren’t here during slavery, nor their ancestors. Some states didn’t even have slavery.”

He added: “Reparations teach separation. Slavery ended over 130 years ago. How can a father ask his son to spend prison time for a crime he committed? I feel it continues to let us know we’re still African American, rather than just American. Reparation or atonement is outside the teaching of Jesus Christ.”

Reparations have been part of the national dialogue for years, with supporters arguing that the United States has never atoned for the forced labor of slavery and lands taken away from Black Americans over the course of generations.

The author Ta-Nehisi Coates explored the idea in “The Case for Reparations,” his 2014 article for The Atlantic, which urged the country to confront its past.

“An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane,” he wrote. “An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.”

The issue became a focal line of questioning for Democratic candidates as they started to enter into the 2020 presidential race, especially with Black Americans serving as a bedrock of the party.

After the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, which launched a wave of racial and social justice reckonings across the country, the issue became even more prominent during a summer when the Black Lives Matter movement and other racial equity movements reached a societal apex.

The Review of Black Political Economy estimated that a reparations package that sufficiently addresses past injustices would cost roughly $12 trillion and give each descendant of slavery $254,782.

Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York said that there’s a possibility that reparations might not involve financial payments, but argued that the proposal “sets forth a process by which a diverse group of experts and stakeholders can study the complex issues involved and make recommendations.”

“The discussion of reparations is a journey in which the road traveled is almost more important than the exact destination,” he added.

The White House said last week that President Joe Biden would back a study of the issue.

“He certainly would support a study of reparations,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “He understands we don’t need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime.”

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