“I’ve only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honours I will have had as president,” Mr Joe Biden said at the newest holiday signing event.
The Bill was passed on Tuesday establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day; a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States; has finally been signed.
Months after the northern US states defeated the South in a civil war fought over slavery; On 19 June 1865 enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free.
The word Juneteenth is a merger of June and Nineteenth.
The liberation of enslaved people in Texas came more than two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all enslaved people in the rebellious states to be free.
The declaration by General Grainger to bring the Emancipation Proclamation into effect in Texas is seen by many; as the end of slavery as it finally brought the practice to an end in the last state still holding the enslaved.
The Road to the Juneteenth Holiday
Already 49 states and Washington DC formally recognise Juneteenth as a state or ceremonial holiday. South Dakota is the last remaining state.
When he was senator of Illinois, Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday; but the law was never passed – even after he became president.
This year, companies such as Nike, Uber, Twitter and many others; have announced they are giving their employees a paid day off for Juneteenth.
Governors in some states, including New York and Virginia, have also declared it a holiday for state employees.
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives backed the legislation by 415-14, a day after it was unanimously approved by the Senate. With the signature of President Biden, it has become law.