‘We need to learn from our history’: Biden approves Juneteenth bill, making it a federal holiday

‘We need to learn from our history’: Biden approves Juneteenth bill, making it a federal holiday_60f1c559b14c1.jpeg

The U.S. Senate has recently passed legislation to designate the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States as a national holiday, according to a report by Yahoo! News.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is celebrated on June 19 and commemorates the day in 1865 when formerly enslaved African Americans learned of their freedom following Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger’s arrival in Galveston with former President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“Happy that my bill to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday just passed the Senate,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) stated in a tweet. “It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years. Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union.”

Cornyn collaborated on the bill with U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) last spring, when racial tensions in the country were high after the murder of George Floyd, but they were unable to get support at the time. However, a year and a half later, the bill now has 18 Republican co-sponsors.

“The stakes are a little different,” Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke University African American Studies professor, told the New York Times last June. “Many Black Americans feel as though this is the first time in a long time that they have been heard in a way across the culture. It’s an opportunity for folks to kind of catch their breath about what has been this incredible pace of change and shifting that we’ve seen.”

Several companies, including Allstate, have also declared Juneteenth a paid holiday in response to the significant social movement initiated by the murder of George Floyd, according to NPR.

“This is where you put your values in line with your business decisions,” Christy Harris, Allstate senior vice president of human resources, said.

State governments are also acknowledging the significance of Juneteenth, with Oregon being the most recent state to adopt Juneteenth as an official state holiday, joining 47 other states and the District of Columbia.

President Joe Biden signed the bill on June 17, making Juneteenth the 11th annual federal holiday.

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