Washington, D.C. – Following overwhelming, bipartisan votes in the Senate and House, President Biden today signed into law bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins and Angus King designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth, observed on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and is also known as “Emancipation Day,” “Jubilee Day,” and “Juneteenth Independence Day.” On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which announced that, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free.” Juneteenth is celebrated by states and municipalities as an official holiday or day of observance, including in Maine.
“For more than 150 years, Americans have commemorated Juneteenth to celebrate the end of slavery,” said Senator Collins. “It was long past time for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. Juneteenth brings us together as one nation to mark the progress we have made to ensure equality, opportunity, and justice for all. At the same time, we continue to be mindful of the work that remains to be done.”
“For more than 150 years, Juneteenth has reflected the contradiction inherent in America’s identity – it is both a celebration of the freedom that defines our national character, and a reminder that we are only a few generations removed from the inhumane institution of slavery,” said Senator King. “It is fitting that this day be recognized as a national holiday, providing all Americans with the opportunity to reflect upon how much progress we have made, and all the unfinished work ahead of us if we are to truly craft a more perfect union.”
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was introduced in February by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by 60 Senators.