It’s final y’all! Juneteenth Independence Day is officially now a federal holiday and passed the House on Wednesday and will head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. This bill will also be the 11th federal public holiday.
Juneteenth which is also known as Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States acknowledged by Major General Gordon Granger arriving in Galveston Bay, Texas, with 2,000 Union troops to spread that “all slaves are free” under the Emancipation Proclamation.
History of Juneteenth
President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, to actually take action on Jan. 1, 1863. Unfortunately, word of this didn’t spread fast enough and thousands of black people who lived in areas under Confederate control continued to be held captive throughout the Civil War.
Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey in the Senate and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in the House (both Democrats) initially brought up the legislation to make Juneteenth a holiday last year on June 19, while Black Lives Matter protests incited by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis spread the country.
In order to back her side up, Jackson Lee brought a large photo of a black slave with a back scarred from a whip to the House floor on Wednesday while speaking in support of the bill. The holiday would “commemorate the end of chattel slavery, America’s original sin, and would bring about celebration, crushing racial divide down to a point of unity,” Lee said.
Just last year, Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and James Lankford of Oklahoma proposed getting rid of Columbus Day to designate Juneteenth as a holiday.
Of course, there were a few Republicans who attempted to block the bill, balking at giving federal employees another day off. Even though other Republicans stated they support the idea of creating a holiday to celebrate the end of slavery, they also mentioned their concerns on how they believed the bill was going through a rushed process.
“Naming this day ‘National Independence Day’ will create confusion and push Americans to pick one of those two days as their Independence Day based on their racial identity,” said Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie.
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