Congress Votes to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

The United States Congress passed a bill on Wednesday to make Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the country. 

Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved Black Americans learned they were free after the US Civil War between Confederate slave-holding states in the south and free states of the Union in the north. 

Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word did not reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas. 

That was more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the American slaves in 1862. 

Known as The US’s “Second Independence Day”, Juneteenth is a major holiday for African Americans and is celebrated in Black communities throughout the US with prayer breakfasts, civic events, family gatherings, barbeques and parties. 

The House now followed the Senate in passing the bill, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature. 

The Senate had passed the bill on June 15 by unanimous consent agreement that expedited the process for considering legislation. 

"The passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act is a long-overdue recognition for generations of pain and suffering of our Black communities," said Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat. 

"Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognise the wrongs of the past,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday. 

"But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfil the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution." 


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