Texas-based televangelist Kenneth Copeland had high praise for Simeon, a black leader in the Church of Antioch in the Bible, as he called on President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to come together and make Juneteenth a national holiday.
“Being raised in Texas, Juneteeth has been a big thing ever since I could remember because it began in Galveston in 1865. The word finally got to Galveston that the first Republican president had signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freedom started at that time,” Copeland noted in a Facebook Live broadcast as many black people celebrated the annual tradition across the country on Friday. “I prayed and asked the Lord today to impress Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden to get together to make this a national holiday. It’s long overdue. It should have been a national holiday.”
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day, marks the anniversary of when the last group of slaves in the United States were told of their freedom. A Union force commanded by General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and informed the slave population that they were free.
Copeland explained that black people have long been influential figures in the Church, using the story of Simeon cited in Acts 13:1-3.
“In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.’ Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off,” the Scriptures note.
“I knew as just a young boy, I don’t know, I just sensed it somewhere or another… that a great part of my future was closely tied to the black community. And then I began to see how closely tied God is to the black community,” Copeland said.
“Listen who the second man was. He’s either a prophet or a teacher, right behind Barnabas, Simeon, that was called Niger. He was identified. That is Greek for black. He was Simeon but he was identified as the black prophet,” Copeland said.
The televangelist then explained the Church of Antioch became the Apostle Paul’s home church for a year where he was taught by Simeon and others.
“So one of his primary instructors, and you notice, it’s always very important that this man, this very important man was a black man. And he’s an important man that helped train the man that wrote over half of the New Testament,” Copeland noted.
He then went to Romans 13:7 to make the case for Juneteenth being made a federal holiday. The verse states: “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
“Juneteenth needs to be a national holiday, glory to God. Somebody’s finally waked up to what Juneteenth is. I’ve known it since I was 12 years old. It’s big celebration in Texas. It’s past time. It needs to be right there with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There needs to be streets named in honor of Juneteenth,” Copeland said.