Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, one which the state of Texas has been observing for decades, according to the Wall Street Journal.
On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday.
Texas was the first state to observe Juneteenth in 1980, with family gatherings and parades.
“All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” said Biden.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s executive order abolished slavery. The word did not reach Texas until June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger along with 1,800 troops arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news that the slaves were free.
This order enshrined a ban on slavery into the United States Constitution with the 13th Amendment in 1865.
“As it takes on a more national and global perspectives, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten,” said Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.
The Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area celebrates the holiday with a Miss Juneteenth Pageant. The pageant is an ongoing tradition that awards participants educational scholarships, reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Galveston celebrated the holiday by dedicating a new 5,000-square-foot mural themed “Absolute Freedom.”
The mural displays African Americans being brought to the U.S. as slaves and an image of Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation in hand.
“Throughout history Juneteenth has been known by many names: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and today a national holiday,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.
The House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously with the votes of 415 to 14, said the article.
“The promise of equality is not going to be fulfilled until we become real, it becomes in our schools and out main streets and in our neighborhoods,” the president said.
The holiday received national attention after protests, following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey, reported the newspaper.
The holiday took effect immediately, because the first observation fell on a Saturday. Most federal employees had Friday off, the report noted.
However, The U.S. Postal Service continued its operation. “We are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and our customers are relying on us to deliver our essential services,” said Douglas Tulino, deputy postmaster general.