June 19, 2021

America to officially celebrate the End of Slavery—President Biden signs the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.”

Biden signs bill into law making Juneteenth a national holiday.

On the eve of Juneteenth 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

“Juneteenth represents not only the commemoration of the end of slavery more than 150 years ago but the ongoing work to have to bring true equity and racial justice to American society, which we can do. In short, this day doesn’t just celebrate the past. It calls for action today.

I’ve only been President for several months but this will go down for me as one of the greatest honors I will have as President. It’s an enormous, enormous honor.” ~ Joe Biden

Biden signed the bill, passed unanimously in the senate, with 94-year-old civil rights leader Ms. Opal Lee, fondly called the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” standing beside him. In 2016, Opal Lee, then 89, undertook a 1,400-mile trek from her home in Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., garnering more than 1.6 million signatures on a petition to ask then-President Barack Obama to make Juneteenth a national holiday. She didn’t make the whole distance due to health concerns but traveled to cities that invited her for Juneteenth celebrations, joined by supporters cheering her on.

Lee’s years-long crusade to make Juneteenth a national holiday was finally realized earlier this week as President Biden signed legislation establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.

 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s.

“On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.” ~ New York Times

 

It is interesting to note that there were 14 Republicans who voted against it. “14 conservative Republican white guys all voted that we should not commemorate the end of slavery in the United States,” noted Rachel Maddow.

 

Relephant: Juneteenth Explained—by Dulcé Sloan & Trevor Noah: My Self-Education Series, Part I. {Video}

 

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