The U.S. Senate passed a bill Tuesday to recognize June 19, or Juneteenth, as an official holiday. It passed with unanimous approval with no roll call vote objections from the room
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act heads to the House for approval. If it passes and President Joe Biden signs it into law, each national employee will be granted a day off to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, discovered President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved African Americans in rebel states two 1/2 years before. The day is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.,, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, reintroduced the bill in February to designate Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Today, 47 states and the District of Columbia observe the date in some manner. Texas was first to officially recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in 1980.
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The Senate bill passed as Congress grapples with legislation to protef minority voters while trying to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to shore up accountability for law enforcement.