The Senate on June 15 passed a measure that would establish a federal holiday for Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery in Texas. The “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” heads to the House for approval.
Juneteenth marks the day on 19 June 1865, the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas discovered President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved African Americans in rebel states two and a half years earlier. The day is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
“Juneteenth commemorates the moment some of the last formerly enslaved people in the nation learned they were free,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past — but we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfil the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution,” he added.
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas re-introduced the bill in February to designate Juneteenth a federal holiday.