Originating in Galveston, Texas, it is now celebrated annually on June 19 in commemoration of the anniversary date in 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas.
"Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past", Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement, "but we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution". If House lawmakers pass the legislation, it would proceed to President Biden's desk for final approval. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, passed by unanimous consent. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who dropped his previous objection to the bill.
"Last year, a bill was introduced to celebrate Juneteenth by providing an additional paid holiday for 2 million federal employees at a cost of $600 million per year", Johnson said.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has officially declared Juneteenth an official paid holiday for city employees. Now, about a year later, the bill included 18 GOP co-sponsors.
Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, welcomed the bill's passage on Tuesday in a tweet noting that Juneteenth was already a Texas state holiday.
"Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more ideal union", he said.
Ivey's decision to honor Juneteenth comes after hundreds gathered in Birmingham on June 19, 2020, the summer that saw the proliferation of protests and demonstrations calling for an end to police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer.
A Juneteenth celebration at the memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis past year. "Many Black Americans feel as though this is the first time in a long time that they have been heard in a way across the culture".
If the bill is passed in the House and signed by the president, Juneteenth would become the 11th annual federal holiday.