Juneteenth is now a federal holiday in the US

Story Update: Since this story was written, the bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday has been signed into law. 

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States, and this year, the holiday is closer than ever to becoming a federal holiday. The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution this week that would designate June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day. 

Spearheaded by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the movement to designate the date as an official holiday has been growing in the wake of last year’s momentous Black Lives Matter protests. The holiday was proposed to the Senate last year but was blocked by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson who claimed a new federal holiday would be too costly to taxpayers. 

Juneteenth specifically celebrates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas as a response to President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. The date has been a state holiday in Texas since 1980 and is officially commemorated in every state but South Dakota, but few observe it as a paid holiday. 

Federal holiday status would make the date the country’s 12th federal holiday and a paid day off for all Americans. The bill must be approved by the House and signed into law by President Biden to enter into law. The last holiday added was Martin Luther King Jr. Day designated in 1983. 

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