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US Senate Passes Bill, Biden Signs It Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday Marking the End of Slavery

News Staff : Jun 17, 2021  CBN News

"Juneteenth is actually the day that African-Americans celebrate their independence. So with all of the conversation around racial equality and justice in the United States, a lot of people are turning to Juneteenth as a symbol, as a way they can celebrate and honor the sacrifices that African-Americans have made." -Jesse Holland, historian at George Washington University

airlift[CBN News]The United States has a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery — the first new national holiday since 1983.

The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday, and President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday.

Since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, most federal employees will get this Friday off.

As America confronts race relations, Juneteenth has become a much more important holiday to recognize, even though many Americans are unfamiliar with it.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in January of 1863. Two and a half years later on June 19, 1865, the news finally reached Galveston, Texas, which at the time was the largest city in the Lone Star State.

Union General Gordon GrangerĀ read the order aloud, "all slaves are free" from the Galveston County courthouse.

"Juneteenth is actually the day that African-Americans celebrate their independence. So with all of the conversation around racial equality and justice in the United States, a lot of people are turning to Juneteenth as a symbol, as a way they can celebrate and honor the sacrifices that African-Americans have made," explained Jesse Holland, a historian at George Washington University.

Last year, two Republican senators proposed the idea of replacing Columbus Day as a federal holiday with Juneteenth. US Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced their suggested amendment to bipartisan legislation led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

"In response to a bipartisan effort to give federal workers another day of paid leave by designating Juneteenth a federal holiday, we have offered a counterproposal that does not put us further in debt," Sen. Johnson said at the time. "We support celebrating emancipation with a federal holiday, but believe we should eliminate a current holiday in exchange. We chose Columbus Day as a holiday that is lightly celebrated, and least disruptive to Americans' schedules."

Lankford agreed that Juneteenth needs to be remembered. He also believes Congress needs to subtract a holiday due to the financial cost of adding to the total number of federal holidays.

Every federal holiday costs the government $600 million in paid leave for government workers, according to the two senators.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and had 60 co-sponsors.

Markey tweeted Monday, "We have a long road towards racial justice in the United States and we cannot get there without acknowledging our nation's original sin of slavery. It is long past time to make Juneteenth a federal holiday."

Under the legislation, the federal holiday would be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here







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