Juneteenth will become a national holiday.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 415-14 to recognize June 19th, or Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. The day commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States when, in 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news of emancipation for the enslaved persons there.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and 60 co-sponsors, was passed in the Senate earlier this week in an expedited vote. In a statement released on Tuesday, Sen. Markey said that the legislation’s passage “will address this long-ignored gap in our history, recognize the wrong that was done, acknowledge the pain and suffering of generations of slaves and their descendants, and finally celebrate their freedom.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-TX), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said in her own statement that Juneteenth is “America’s second Independence Day.”
“As I have said many times, Juneteenth is as significant to African Americans as July 4th is to all Americans,” she said, adding, “Juneteenth honors the end of the 400 years of suffering African Americans endured under slavery and celebrates the legacy of perseverance that has become the hallmark of the African American experience in the struggle for equality.”
Juneteenth is recognized and observed in most states, and is a paid holiday for federal employees in Texas, Washington, Virginia, and New York. It will officially become the 12th federally recognized holiday, and the first created since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983, after Biden signs it into law.