After 156 years, Juneteenth will be an official federal holiday.
Juneteenth has long been celebrated as a commemoration of the end of slavery. Now, it will be officially recognized as a federal holiday.
The bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday passed in the House of Representatives yesterday in an overwhelming 415-14 vote. Now, it is headed to the President's desk and Biden is expected to sign the bill at 3:30 pm ET on Thursday, June 17. The White House Press Office sent its daily guidance to the media which included this message:
"3:30 pm: THE PRESIDENT signs the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law; THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT deliver remarks."
According to the announcement, signing the bill will be the first thing the President does when he lands in DC after a weeklong trip to Europe.
In 1983, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was the last holiday to be recognized as a federal holiday. The designation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday means that federal government employees will get the day off every year on June 19. If the holiday falls on a weekend, it will be moved to an adjacent Monday or Friday.
Today @POTUS will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday. As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.— U.S. Office of Personnel Management (@USOPM) June 17, 2021
"Our federal holidays are purposefully few in number and recognize the most important milestones," stated U.S. Representative for New York's 12th congressional district, Carolyn Maloney. "I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States."
Others agreed with Maloney and celebrated the announcement on social media.
I’m proud the bill I put on the floor from @SenMarkey, @SenTinaSmith, and @SenBooker to make #Juneteenth a federal holiday passed the Senate.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 16, 2021
It will be the only federal holiday recognizing the horrors of slavery and the transformative legacy of emancipation. pic.twitter.com/6ZTLaMWlm9
#Juneteenth is one of the most momentous events in our history and has been celebrated by millions for 156 years. Thanks to tonight's bipartisan vote, it will soon be officially recognized as a federal holiday and take its place of honor in our nation. pic.twitter.com/dP3lT1bne9— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 17, 2021
WATCH: 94-year-old Texas activist Opal Lee reacts to the moment the House passed the bill making June 19th, aka #Juneteenth, a federal holiday.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 17, 2021
This will be the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983. pic.twitter.com/3MKeGINsKM
Although Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people in the United States on January 1, 1863, the country was still plagued by the Civil War and many southern states were not following the decree. On June 19, 1865, two years after the Proclamation, US Major General Gordan Granger and about 2,000 soldiers marched through the streets of Galveston, Texas reading General Order No. 3, which recognized the end of slavery and officially put in effect The Emancipation Proclamation.
Since that day, Juneteenth has been celebrated as Independence Day, Freedom Day, and Emancipation Day. On June 7, 1979, Texas became the first state to officially recognize the day as an official state holiday and it took 42 years for the federal government to do the same. On June 19, 2021, Galveston will also unveil and dedicate a 5,000 square-foot mural called "Absolute Equality" on the exact spot where General Granger declared freedom.
How do you plan on celebrating Juneteenth this year? Let us know in the comments.