Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, when word reached enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free.
Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation, and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound — in my view — profound weight and profound power.
A day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take — what I’ve long called ‘America’s original sin.’
“As those who were formerly enslaved were recognized for the first time as citizens,” Biden explained, “Black Americans came to commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations across the country, building new lives and a new tradition that we honor today. In its celebration of freedom, Juneteenth is a day that should be recognized by all Americans. And that is why I am proud to have consecrated Juneteenth as our newest national holiday.”
The Juneteenth legislation faced scant opposition in Congress. On June 15, the Senate passed it by unanimous consent. And, the next day, the House passed it by a broad margin; 415 to 14.
Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday established since 1983, when the nation designated the third Monday in January to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.