Update: 1:38 p.m. EST (June 17, 2021) – President Joe Biden has officially signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, making Juneteenth an official federal holiday. The legislation swiftly moved through the Senate and House this week, passing just days before June 19.
“We are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people. We are footsteps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House signing ceremony according to NPR.
“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’s also a day for us to reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to action.”
Tune in as I sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. https://t.co/Xq8AYa76if
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 17, 2021
See VIBE’s original article below:
On Tuesday (June 15), the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The Texan day of recognition is celebrated every June 19th to commemorate the official end of slavery.
“Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), according to the Associated Press. “But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.”
The bill has now been approved by Congress to be signed into law by President Joe Biden. The House voted 415-14 Wednesday (June 16) to make Juneteenth or June 19th a federal holiday. Expected to be signed by POTUS, the bill makes Juneteenth the newest federally observed holiday since Martin Luther King Day was established in 1983.
Juneteenth marks the anniversary of Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, sharing the news of freedom with enslaved people in Galveston, Texas in 1865, 2 years after former President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Since the inception of Juneteenth, Black people have celebrated both inside and out of the Lonestar State for decades, with cookouts, parades, festivals, and marches. Cities across the country observe Juneteenth with sanctioned events that aim to highlight and empower Black communities. It is often used as a day to learn Black history, and support Black businesses.
In 2020, USA Today reported two-thirds of Americans supported making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Data collected by The Harris Poll revealed 66% said they supported the effort, compared to 34% who disagreed. Gen Xers were most likely (81%) to support the paid holiday initiative, followed by GenZ and millennials with 73% approval.