Juneteenth is set to become a federal holiday, after the US Senate unanimously passed a measure to formally recognise the abolition of slavery and the nation’s “second” Independence Day.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a motion to pass the bill, without objections. It now heads to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson – the lone senator who blocked the proposal in 2020 – dropped his objections this year.
The measure proposed by US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee and Senator John Cornyn, both of Texas, has gained considerable support over the following year, including more than a dozen Republicans, amid racial justice uprisings across the US.
Though not recognised among the nation’s list of federal holidays, Juneteenth has widely represented the emancipation of enslaved African Americans following the Civil War and its violent aftermath, and is the oldest nationally recognised commemoration of slavery’s end.
Some state and local governments have declared it a holiday, and a growing number of companies, universities and other institutions have recognised the day with remembrance events and as a paid holiday.
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