It’s Official: Juneteenth Is A National Holiday

June 19, 2021
US President Joe Biden
The White House, CC BY 3.0 US <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons

On June 17th, 2021, US President Joe Biden signed a bill declaring June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States after both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the bill. It was a historic moment and one that President Biden said will be “one of the greatest honors I will have as a president.” Although it took over 150 years for a president to declare Juneteenth a national holiday, it will be a day that will forever be remembered as an important turning point in US history. According to President Biden, Juneteenth will not only be a day to commemorate the end of slavery, but it will also serve as a reminder to take action and to fight for equality because, “We can’t rest until the promise of equality is fulfilled for every one of us in every corner of this nation. That to me is the meaning of Juneteenth.”

Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19th, 1900

Interesting Fact: June 19th, or Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, is the day that slavery officially ended in the United States. Why June 19th? While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1st, 1863, the end of slavery throughout the United States didn’t happen until Major General Gordon Granger, who was based in Texas, received word on June 19th, 1865, that the Emancipation Proclamation had already taken effect in other parts of the country. Why the delay? Unlike today, word traveled at a different pace in the 1800s. There was no e-mail, Twitter, or Instagram so information traveled as quickly or as slowly as a train or horse could take a messenger.

What does Juneteenth mean to you?