Senate Passes Bill To Make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday
Juneteenth was born on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, when Union Soldiers led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger took out the last stronghold of the Confederate Army. Gen. Granger delivered words of freedom in person to the remaining slaves in America, nearly two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The Union General read General Order #3 to the people of Galveston:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."
The Civil War was officially over, all slaves were finally free, and the celebration of freedom had begun. Known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth became an annual event to commemorate freedom across the country and around the world. In 1980, Texas made Juneteenth a state holiday. Now, if it passes the House of Representatives, which it most likely will, Freedom Day will officially become a federal holiday.
Last summer, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, ramped up efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday along with Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass. and John Cornyn, R-Texas. Earlier this year, they came back together to reintroduce the bill and this time around, they found success.
On Tuesday of this week, the Senate unanimously passed the bill recognizing Juneteenth National Independence Day. The bill is now on its way to the House of Representatives, where it's expected to pass as well. When that happens, Juneteenth will officially become the twelfth federal holiday in America.