June 19 was declared as a holiday in the US on Thursday after US President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day bill, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in the country, into a law.
Since the 1893’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth became the first federal holiday created and was known to be the 11th federal holiday in the US.
Most federal employees, according to the US Office of Personnel Management on Thursday, will commemorate the holiday on Friday as June 19 will be a Saturday this 2021.
The holiday remembers the historic arrival of Union Major General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abrahan Lincoln, which outlawed slavery. There are only a few of the US states which commemorate June 19 as a paid holiday.
The bill gained traction after the Black Lives Matter movement triggered by the murder of Black man George Floyd last year, as well as the dominance of the Democrats in the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.
The legislation was passed by the Senate on Tuesday and by the Congress by the following day with a 415-14 vote.
Democrats Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texan and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, along with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas have pushed for the bill.
Before the passage of the bill, Lee shared to reporters: “What I see here today is racial divide crumbling, being crushed this day under a momentous vote that brings together people who understand the value of freedom.”
Last year, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin obstructed the bill citing that US taxpayers would shed hundreds of millions of dollars if it was declared as a day off for federal workers. The senator, however, approved of the bill which led to its Senate passage.