Juneteenth (June Nineteenth) commemorates the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865 General Gordon Granger and federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and took control of the state to free the last remaining enslaved people in America. It is celebrated in America as the Black Freedom Day.
On June 17, 2021 U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. This action made Juneteenth the eleventh federal holiday recognized by the U.S. federal government. This holiday is observed on June 19th.
Events leading to the 11th federal holiday
- Opal Lee, 94, of Fort Worth, Texas has spend a decade advocating for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. Her activism lead to her being recognized by many as the “grandmother of Juneteenth”.
- Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts sponspored the Juneteenth National Independence Act.
- The legislation was blocked in 2020 by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He dropped his objection earlier this week allowing the bill to advance out of the chamber.
- The Senate passed the legislation on Tuesday, June 16, 2021.
- The House passed the legislation on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 with a 415-14 vote.