President Joe Biden was set to sign a bill on Thursday afternoon establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.
The bill reached Biden’s desk after the House on Wednesday voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the country’s twelfth federal holiday. Juneteenth marks the date in 1985 when a Union general told a group of slaves in Texas that they had been granted freedom about two-and-a-half years prior with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
A day earlier, the Senate passed the legislation with a unanimous consent agreement that expedites consideration for the bill.
Juneteenth will be the first new federal holiday in the US since 1983 when Martin Luther King Jr Day was signed into law.
‘Our federal holidays are purposely few in number and recognize the most important milestones,’ Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York said. ‘I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States.’
Federal employees will begin taking Juneteenth off in 2021. It will be observed on Friday because Juneteenth lands on a Saturday this year, the US Office of Personnel Management tweeted.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]