Bill Nye the ‘Science Guy’ mistakenly claimed Juneteenth was the day slavery ended in America – and internet users were quick to tell the famed TV educator to hit the history books.
Nye, known for his eponymous, educational 90s TV program, made the assertion in a tweet Sunday afternoon, in a post that saw the 66-year-old attempt to ring in the holiday with some historical insight.
The date, made into a federal holiday by President Biden last year, commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the US.
However, the anniversary is widely considered symbolic, with several states still permitting slavery at that point, and slaves not formally freed until December 1865, when the 13th Amendment fully abolished the practice.
In actuality, the date commemorates news of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years earlier by Abraham Lincoln, spreading to still Confederate-run Texas, by way of US Union General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865.
That day, the army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were to be freed by Lincoln’s famed executive decree – a day that the newly freed people dubbed ‘Juneteenth.’
Roughly six months later, the 13th Amendment fully prohibited the owning of slaves, spurring states such as Kentucky and Delaware – where it had still been legal – to cease the practice.
‘The United States we know today was built with the labor of enslaved Black Americans,’ Nye, 66, wrote Sunday, June 19, in a post that included a selfie of the star clutching a pocket-sized US Constitution.
The TV personality when on to falsely state that the last of the country’s slaves were freed on that day 157 years ago.
‘The last were not freed (officially) until 19 June 1865. Let us celebrate – and never forget.’
The statement sparked almost immediate backlash on social media, with a slew of users quick to point out that slavery was not fully abolished for another six months.
‘This is not accurate,’ one user wrote, moments after Nye shared the statement.
A slightly more cheeky observer told Nye to open the Constitution he had been clutching and fact-check his assertion.
‘Please open that and let us what date the 13th amendment was ratified into the constitution that ended slavery once and for all,’ the user wrote, adding, ‘Hint: it’s not June 19th.’