U.S. Senate approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

Eloise Marshall
June 16, 2021

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Once the vote goes through the House, the bill will head to President Joe Biden's desk for a signature.

Juneteenth began as a holiday in the State of Texas and is now celebrated in cities and states throughout the country as a special day of observance in recognition of the emancipation of all slaves in the United States.

This year, the bill gained more Republican support and Johnson dropped his objections. "Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more ideal union". "I just think it's kind of odd that now apparently the only way to do that is to give 2 million federal workers a paid day off, cost American taxpayers $600 million".

Federal lawmakers' efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday gained significantly more momentum a year ago amid the nationwide protests following George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer.

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"The stakes are a little different", Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke University African American studies professor, told the New York Times last June.

"Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past", said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

"While it still seems unusual that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter", the Republican senator said in a statement Tuesday morning. "They attempted to pass the bill without debate or amendment process. Therefore, I do not intend to object", Johnson said in a statement before Tuesday's vote. Alabama also recognizes the state holidays of Confederate Memorial Day, celebrated in April, and Robert E. Lee's birthday, celebrated the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All 50 states except South Dakota honor and celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday. "It is long past time to make Juneteenth a federal holiday". While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves on January 1, 1863, it took another two and a half years before some 250,000 slaves in Texas learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865.

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