Explained: What is Juneteenth, the new federal holiday celebrating end of slavery in US

In what is being hailed as a historic second, President Joe Biden signed a invoice into regulation declaring June 19 as a federal holiday to mark the end of slavery in the US. “I hope this is the beginning of a change in the way we deal with one another,” Biden stated after signing the historic invoice.

The invoice cleared by Congress had been unanimously accredited by the Senate. The solely opposition it acquired was from 14 House Republicans — many representing states that have been half of the slave-holding Confederacy in the nineteenth century.

The President emphasised the want for the US to catch up with its history and stated, “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”

President Joe Biden indicators the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House. (Photo: Getty)

What is Juneteenth?

The holiday will mark the day when Major General Gordon Granger reached Galveston in Texas and issued General Order No. 3 that announced: “All slaves are free.” The day was June 19, 1865, two months after the end of the Civil War and two years after the declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation that had freed slaves in the Southern part of the country.

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The order delivered by General Gordon read, “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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labour.”

The rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln and then-Secretary of State William Seward. (Photo: AP)

The people in Glavaston began celebrating Juneteenth from next year, which has continued for decades and generations. The newly assigned holiday will now get the same status as the ten other federal holidays in the US including Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Derived from the month of June and the date 19th, it has also been called Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day. The day has already been recognised by several states before the White House declared it a federal holiday.

Why now?

The move is being seen as an attempt by the federal government to reach back to the black community, which had been alienated during the presidency of Donald Trump. The proposal was blocked in the then Republican-controlled Senate during his presidency with Republican senator Ron Johnson arguing that it would mean the taxpayers would have to foot millions of dollars in bills for paid leave to federal government employees.

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The bill was sponsored by Democratic Senator Edward Markey and had 60 co-sponsors. Bipartisan support emerged as lawmakers struggle to overcome divisions that are still simmering following the police killing final yr of George Floyd in Minnesota.

President Joe Biden speaks from the White House hours after the verdict in George Floyd case alongside Vice President Kamala Harris.

The black group in the US has been dealing with the brunt of systemic racism and the transfer is prone to deliver them nearer to the authorities led by Biden, whose cupboard has a number of key positions being held by African Americans together with Kamala Harris, the first black girl to function vp.

“We are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people. We are footsteps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And we are here to witness President Joe Biden establish Juneteenth as a national holiday. We have come far, and we have far to go, but today is a day of celebration,” Harris stated.

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