Juneteenth becomes federal holiday

| 22 Jun 2021 | 11:31

The United States Congress passed legislation on June 16. 2021 establishing June 19- Juneteenth as a federal holiday and President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law the following day. This is the 12th federal holiday and the first since 1983 when then President Reagan signed Martin Luther King Jr. Day into law.

Also referred to as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery. Initially celebrated in Texas in 1866, it marked the first anniversary of African Americans learning about the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday was originally celebrated with church- oriented events and wearing new clothes to represent freedom.

Today, Juneteenth is hailed with speeches, religious services, family gatherings and food, music and dancing.

Most federal and governmental employees observe the holiday with a free day and were joined by several individual businesses.