Juneteenth Becomes Newest Federal Holiday

by JBullock

Justin Bullock, FISM News


President Biden will sign a bill at 3:30 p.m. today establishing Juneteenth or June 19th as the 12th federal holiday. The bill easily passed through both houses of Congress with unanimous affirmation in the Senate and close to a unanimous vote in the House. Republicans and Democrats both eagerly voted for the law making Juneteenth the latest federal holiday and the first since 1983 when President Ronald Reagan established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Juneteenth commemorates the day the entire country finally applied the Emancipation Proclamation from President Abraham Lincoln. The Emancipation Proclamation freed all the slaves in the United States and was given on January 1, 1863. However, it was not until June 19, 1865, after the Confederacy surrendered in the Civil War, that the last African-American slave was finally freed in Galveston, Texas. On that day, Juneteenth, Union General Gordon Granger delivered General Order No. 3 in Galveston, which applied the Emancipation Proclamation to the state of Texas, freeing all the slaves therein and completing President Lincoln’s goal.

The official holiday will be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the bill to the Senate and told the press, “Juneteenth is the holiday that fills that gap in our history… Juneteenth is a reminder that none of us are free, unless we are all free.” Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) also strongly supported the bill stating to the press, “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come… And it seems to me that this is the most propitious time for us to recognize our history.”