President Joe Biden signed into law a bill establishing June 19 (Juneteenth) a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on Thursday, officially making June 19 a federal holiday and giving national recognition to a day commemorating emancipation. "Juneteenth marks both a long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and the promise of a brighter morning to come," Biden said in a signing ceremony at the White House. "This is a day, in my view, of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take."
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female and Black vice president, said designating a federal holiday "makes an important statement." "These are days when we as a nation have decided to stop and take stock, and often to acknowledge our history," Harris said, urging people to be clear-eyed about the realities of slavery and the long fight for freedom.
Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day and Jubilee Day — is the 11th federal holiday and the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery and commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and they were free. Granger's message came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.