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Senate passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

The Senate unanimously passed legislation to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday.

Juneteenth flag WHAM photo

The Senate voted to pass a bill that seeks to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday, HuffPost reported. On Tuesday (June 15), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a motion to pass legislation that would honor the day nationwide. With no objection from any of the senators, the proposal was unanimously approved.

“Our bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday just passed the Senate,” tweeted Senator Tina Smith. She was one of many politicians to rejoice in the newly-supported legislation.

The approval of the Juneteenth draft comes after Republican Senator Ron Johnson blocked its passing in 2020. This year, however, he decided to side with fellow lawmakers in getting the bill through the Senate.

“It sounds like Congress wants to do it, so I’m not going to stand in the way,” he said. “I just think it’s kind of odd that now apparently the only way to do [celebrate the end of slavery] is to give two million federal workers a paid day off, cost American taxpayers $600 million.”

Juneteenth, also dubbed Jubilee Day or Emancipation Day, celebrates the official end of slavery via the emancipation of the last few slaves in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. The holiday has since been recognized in states, including Maine and Louisiana, and by African Americans, like Usher, who believe the day should be celebrated over Independence Day.

“For many years, I celebrated the Fourth of July without a true understanding that the date of independence for our people, Black people, is actually June 19, 1865: the day that the news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached some of the last people in America still held in bondage,” he previously wrote in an op-ed.

“[Juneteenth] is ours to honor the legacy of our ancestors, ours to celebrate and ours to remember where we once were as a people. And it should be a national holiday, observed by all Americans.”

With the Senate’s backing, the Juneteenth proposal — sponsored by Senator Ed Markey — is one step closer to making June 19 a federal holiday. The legislation will now make its way to the House of Representatives where Congressmen will debate and vote on whether or not Juneteenth should be celebrated nationally. If passed, President Joe Biden must sign the bill before it becomes a law.

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