Juneteenth: National Holiday:
US President Joe Biden is soon expected to sign a law making June 19, or “Juneteenth”, a national holiday recognised by the federal government, commemorating the end of slavery after the American Civil War (1861-65).
- Juneteenth is the portmanteau of June and nineteenth and is recognised as a state holiday in 47 US states.
- The day is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the US and is observed on June 19.
- It is also known as Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day.
- Juneteenth will be the first new federal holiday created in almost four decades, and will now enjoy the same status as the 10 existing annual holidays, which include Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. The last such holiday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – was created in 1983, in honour of the civil rights hero.
- On January 1, 1863, then-president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that “all persons held as slaves” within the states in rebellion “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
- Even so, over 2.5 years after Lincoln’s proclamation, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive by hiding this information from them and holding them slaves for one more harvest season.
- On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery. Since then, Juneteenth has become a largely symbolic date representing freedom for African Americans.