Juneteenth may soon become federal holiday
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Khara Gibson-Taylor
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday to officially make Juneteenth a federal holiday, the day marking the end of slavery.
Juneteenth is celebrated annually to commemorate June 19, 1865. On that day, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas. This emancipation followed President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
The observance of June 19 as Emancipation Day for African Americans has spread across the United States and beyond.
University of Alabama Department of History Chair and Professor Dr. Joshua Rothman said he believes the recognition of Juneteenth is growing because of the latest national events focused on racial injustice.
“Juneteenth has been celebrated in Texas for a long time. It’s really a Texas holiday,” Rothman said. “The emancipation is starting to grow and receive national recognition as a result of the racial injustices and Black Lives Matter movement.”
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act is on its way to the U.S. House for approval. If passed by the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden, federal employees will receive a day off to commemorate Juneteenth.
Rothman said it’s essential to have public recognition for this historic day.
“Having an annual celebration of emancipation will create a venue for discussion of further changes that need to happen,” Rothman said. “Holidays become a vehicle for discussions, educating others and justice.”
Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington. Under the new legislation, the federal holiday would be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
Alabama Juneteenth celebrations events happening on Saturday, June 19, include:
- Juneteenth Celebration Pop Up Fest (Snow Hinton Park, Tuscaloosa, AL, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
- Juneteenth Celebration Bessemer (Alabama Ave, Bessemer, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
- Fairfield Day: Juneteenth Celebration (Willie Mays Park, Fairfield, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
- The MGB 1st Annual Juneteenth Fest (Legion Field Stadium, Birmingham, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
- Freedom Fest 2021/Juneteenth Celebration (Washington Street, Selma, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
- Juneteenth Freedom Walk (Riverfront Tunnel, Montgomery, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.)