Politics Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday
Juneteenth celebrations arrive amid culture war on race theory, voting, police reform
Juneteenth's rise in popularity after a year of racial reckoning comes amid a culture war on voting rights and American schools' teachings on race.Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19th, commemorates June 19, 1865 — the date when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, informing the Galveston, Texas, community that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved African Americans in rebel states. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
Washington — President Biden on Thursday signed into law a measure that makes June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Vice President Harris, too, marked the White House event with remarks and introduced Mr. Biden.
The bill, the Juneteenth Independence Day Act, headed to Mr. Biden's desk after it overwhelminglyon Wednesday and the Senate on Tuesday. Fourteen Republicans opposed the legislation in the House, while it passed by unanimous voice vote in the Senate.
Juneteenth's path to becoming a federal holiday was a long time coming
It's the first federal holiday to be approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983. Here's how the fight to recognize it evolved over the years.Since the reckoning reignited by the killing of George Floyd last year, though, the tide has changed enormously.
"As we establish Juneteenth as our newest national holiday, let us be clear about what happened on June 19, 1865, the day we call Juneteenth," Harris said, speaking of how the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, were the last in the nation to be informed that the Civil War had ended and they would be set free. The news was brought to them more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederate states.
"They learned that they were free. And they claimed their freedom," Harris said, urging Americans to "learn from our history" and "teach our children our history."
Mr. Biden referred to the new holiday as one of "profound weight and profound power," and said it was "a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country, and continues to take."
Congress just voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Here's why the campaign took decades.
For years attempts to make it a permanent federal holiday have been repeatedly shut down by political debates Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. To many Black Americans, Juneteenth holds far more historical and cultural significance than other official holidays. Often called Emancipation Day, or Freedom Day, Juneteenth is a symbol of both generational trauma and progress in America from its long history of slavery. Although 47 states and the District of Columbia already recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, efforts at federal recognition have stalled in Congress year after year, until now.
But he also said that making Juneteenth a national holiday would enable all Americans to "feel the power of this day and learn from our history, and celebrate the progress, and grapple with the distance we've come, and the distance we have to travel." Great nations "don't ignore their most painful moments," Mr. Biden said. "We come to terms with the mistakes we've made," he added, in order to remember them and begin to heal and grow stronger.
About 80 members of Congress, community leaders, local officials and activists, including 93-year-old , who is known as the "grandmother of Juneteenth," attended the White House signing ceremony,
The president said the work to bring racial equity to America isn't finished yet, and he pointed to fair housing laws, childcare, education, and voting rights as issues that will require more action. Noting that there is still a racial gap in COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S., Mr. Biden said the administration is working to close it and mentioned that Harris will be going on a bus tour to promote vaccinations.
Black Americans laud Juneteenth holiday, say more work ahead
WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans rejoiced Thursday after President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, but some said that, while they appreciated the recognition at a time of racial reckoning in America, more is needed to change policies that disadvantage too many of their brethren. “It’s great, but it’s not enough,” said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City. Grant said she was delighted by the quick vote this week by Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday because “it's been a long time coming.”But she added that “we need Congress to protect voting rights, and that needs to happen right now so we don't regress any further.
"Today, we consecrate Juneteenth for what it ought to be, for what it must be, a national holiday. As the vice president noted, a holiday that will join the others of our national celebrations," the president said.
With its passage, Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, becomes the nation's 12th federal holiday. It is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983.
Mr. Biden said he'd probably remember this day "as one of the greatest honors I will have had as president."
The law will go into effect immediately. The Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees the federal workforce,most federal employees will observe the holiday on Friday, since June 19 falls on a Saturday.
Legislation to formally recognize the end of slavery was introduced last year by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, after the death of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Neither measure, however, received a vote on the floors of their respective chambers. The lawmakers reintroduced their bills earlier this year, with each receiving broad bipartisan support.
While one Republican senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, previously blocked the bill in the Senate over its cost and lack of debate, he said Tuesday he would no longer object, citing a lack of appetite in Congress to further discuss the issue.
Juneteenth, recalling end of slavery, is marked across US .
Parades, picnics and lessons in history marked Juneteenth celebrations Saturday in the U.S., a day that carried even more significance after Congress and President Joe Biden created a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery. A new national holiday was “really awesome. It’s starting to recognize the African American experience,” said Detroit artist Hubert Massey, 63. “But we still have a long way to go.” In Detroit, which is 80% Black, students from University Prep Art & Design High School dodged rain to repaint Massey's block-long message, “Power to the People,” which was created last year on downtown Woodward Avenue.