WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) – Congress approved a bill on Wednesday that would make Juneteenth, the day chattel slavery was outlawed in the US, a federal holiday.
The House voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word didn’t reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas. That was also about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Southern states.
It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.
Representative Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released a statement on Facebook commemorating the new holiday.
“The end of slavery in the United States is a milestone we should celebrate, but it should also be a reminder that we still have work to do when it comes to social justice and equality,” she said.