President Biden just signed a new law granting federal workers Friday off to observe Juneteenth. June 19th will also be established as a federal holiday. This is the first time in 40 years a new national holiday has been put in place.
Today @POTUS will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday. As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.— U.S. Office of Personnel Management (@USOPM) June 17, 2021
Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of African Americans who had been enslaved in the United States. It commemorates the day of June 19, 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and proclaimed freedom from slavery, writes HuffPost.
“We’re giving America the opportunity for redemption, for repair, for restoration, for also understanding the new America, which is so multicultural,” says lead sponsor, Jackson Lee.
According to Government Executive, the Senate passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on Tuesday by unanimous consent, and the House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to send the bill to Biden’s desk.
President Biden then signed this into effect Thursday afternoon.
“This is an important step forward for our country. Maryland is proud to support this legislation, and observe this new national holiday,” says Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Hogan’s state government will be closed on Friday as well.
“Of course today is not enough, there’s so much more work left to be done, but this is an important day because it is a piece of pavement on that path towards justice,” says Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.