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  • Ed Gaines

Juneteenth is Now a Federal Holiday

Juneteenth is now officially a federal holiday and federal employees will have today, June 18 off to recognize it.

President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law Thursday afternoon. He and Vice President Kamala Harris also delivered remarks at the signing event held in the East Room of the White House.

Opal Lee, a 94-year-old activist who pushed to make Juneteenth a national holiday, was also in attendance. The lawmakers thanked her for her work.

Juneteenth is observed on June 19 every year. It commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. and is also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, and Juneteenth Independence Day.

The holiday dates back to June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston. The order let the slaves of Texas know they were free, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation.

This is the first time in nearly 40 years that the U.S. has recognized a new federal holiday. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was the last added in 1983. There are now 12 federal holidays.

By making it a federal holiday, the bill only guarantees federal workers will get Juneteenth off. There is no requirement that private businesses give employees the day off.

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