As of Thursday, June 17, 2021, the United States has a new federal holiday commemorating June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved African Americans were granted their freedom in Galveston, Texas marking the official end of slavery in the United States. This is approximately two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation feed slaves in the Southern states. In December 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and slavery was abolished.
The Juneteenth legislation passed through Congress with overwhelming support. The senate approved the bill unanimously and the House passed it in a 415-14 vote. Under the legislation, the federal holiday will be officially known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
Juneteenth is the 12th legal public holiday and the first new federal holiday created in nearly 40 years since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Reagan.
Vice President Kamala Harris was present as President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth legislation. The law goes into effect immediately, making this Friday (June 18, 2021) the first federal Juneteenth holiday in American history. Since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the federal Office of Personnel Management announced that most federal employees would observe it on Friday, June 18, 2021.
MCAA commends President Biden and all the legislators for recognizing Juneteenth as a crucial part of the American story and their efforts to unify all Americans.