When Montana’s U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale cast one of the 14 ‘no’ votes this week to establish the ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day’, he came under withering criticism for racism.

KGVO spoke to Rosendale this week and asked him to explain his vote to our listeners.

“The official title of that legislation is Juneteenth National Independence Day,” said Rosendale. “Now, I think everyone across the state of Montana recognizes the Fourth of July as National Independence Day. That's when we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and our separation from England and the crown.”

Rosendale explained his opposition to the proposed holiday.

“This is yet just another attempt by the hard left to divert attention away from that to make Americans feel bad about who they are and to try to separate us into these categories,” he said.

Rosendale said he also celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery in the United States.

I have absolutely full support for celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation that feed slaves,” he said. “By the way, it was Abraham Lincoln who led the charge, and he was a Republican. We (Republicans) celebrate regularly across the state at our Lincoln-Reagan dinners.”

“They are the ones who have suppressed people,” he said. “They have oppressed people and have tried to make folks of all colors dependent upon the government. And so while I sure celebrate emancipation and the freedom of slaves, what I will not do is confuse the two issues because national Independence Day is the fourth of July.”

Despite Rosendale’s opposition, The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation this week to establish Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the end of chattel slavery in the United States.


LOOK: 28 Modern Black History Makers & Moments


More From Montana Talks