Juneteenth 2021 – Congress approves bill to make day a federal public holiday as GOP compares to 'critical race theory'

THE United States will soon have a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.

The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday, and President Joe Biden is scheduled to sign the bill into law on Thursday.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered.

It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.

Despite the overwhelming support, some Republicans have criticized it, with Rep. Matt Rosendale saying: "This is an effort by the Left to create a day out of whole cloth to celebrate identity politics as part of its larger efforts to make Critical Race Theory the reigning ideology of our country."

Read our Juneteenth live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • Katie Balevic

    BIDEN SIGNED THE JUNETEENTH BILL INTO LAW

    President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth bill into law, making it a federal holiday.

  • Katie Balevic

    PROFESSOR CRITICIZES CRACK DOWN ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY

    Berkeley professor Robert Reich called out those who are banning critical race theory as Juneteenth is set to become a federal law today.

    "Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, but laws are being enacted all across the country to keep people from learning about it?" tweeted Reich, who was formerly the Secretary of Labor.

  • Katie Balevic

    USHER SPOTTED AT THE WHITE HOUSE AHEAD OF JUNETEENTH SIGNING

    Singer Usher was spotted at the White House ahead of the Juneteenth bill's signing, which is expected to happen shortly.

  • Katie Balevic

    JUNETEENTH BILL PASSES AS STATES FORBID SCHOOLS TEACHING CRITICAL RACE THEORY

    The Juneteenth bill will be signed into law as states are banning schools from teaching about critical race theory.

    Critical race theory, as defined by Britannica, is an "intellectual movement" of Civil Rights scholars who critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race.

    A school board in the wealthy suburb of South Lake, Texas, recently won an election to stop “critical race theory” and a new “cultural competence action plan” from being forced into classes.

    Last week, Florida's Board of Education banned educators from teaching critical race theory.

  • Katie Balevic

    DEMOCRATIC SENATOR PUSHES FOR MORE PROGRESS

    Sen. Ed Markey applauded the Juneteenth bill while calling for more social progress in a tweet.

    "Juneteenth, yes. And voting rights. And police accountability. And clean air and water. And economic equality. And reparations," Markey tweeted.

    "We celebrate this federal holiday and recommit to full Black liberation," the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts said.

  • Katie Balevic

    CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS CELEBRATES BILL SIGNING

    The Congressional Black Caucus celebrated the House signing the Juneteenth bill by singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

  • Katie Balevic

    FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WILL OBSERVE JUNETEENTH TOMORROW

     

  • Katie Balevic

    THE HOLIDAY HAS 'GROWING POPULARITY'

    According to Juneteenth.com, the holiday is gaining traction.

    "Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due.

    "In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today.

    "Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society."

  • Katie Balevic

    JUNETEENTH PAYS TRIBUTE TO 'AFRICAN AMERICAN ACHIEVEMENT'

    According to Juneteenth.com the day "commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement"

    "It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings.

    "It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and for planning the future.

  • Katie Balevic

    THE HOLIDAY HAS OTHER NICKNAMES

    Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day.

    The day marks the end of slavery in the United States as on June 19, 1865 slaves in Texas were told they would be freed.

    That day Union General Gordon Granger rode to Galveston, Texas and told the crowd: "In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."

    Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and 19.

  • Katie Balevic

    WHICH REPUBLICANS VOTED AGAINST THE JUNETEENTH BILL?

    Republicans suggested the bill would divide Americans, with GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas even taking swipe at the holiday's name – saying, "on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one's skin."

    Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona were among the lawmakers who voted against Juneteenth being made a federal holiday.

    Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Rep. Tom McClintock of California, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, and Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin also opposed the bill.

  • Katie Balevic

    JUNETEENTH HAS ITS OWN FLAG

    The original flag design was by Ben Haith in 1997 and underwent multiple design changes with more recent interpretations done by Lisa Jeanne GrafCredit: WikiPedia

     

  • Katie Balevic

    WHICH STATES DO NOT CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY?

    The celebration that marks the end of slavery is recognized by almost all US states.

    Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota, are the states that have not yet established the day as a holiday.

    Hawaii is close to becoming the 49th state to recognize the day as lawmakers passed legislation in April of 2021 that would commemorate June 19.

    The bill which still needs to be signed by Governor David Ige would not make Juneteenth a state holiday.

  • Katie Balevic

    WHICH STATES CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH?

    Celebrations to commemorate the end of slavery take place across the country with parades and festivals marking the emancipation of enslaved Black people.

    However Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington are the four states where state employees get paid on the Juneteenth.

    In 2020, the death of George Floyd sparked racial injustice protests across the country with thousands of people gathering to protest against racism.

    Americans paid tribute by participating in demonstrations around the country, holding sit-ins, or taking part in car caravan protests.

  • Katie Balevic

    SEVERAL REPUBLICANS VOTED AGAINST JUNETEENTH FEDERAL HOLIDAY 

    Despite the overwhelming support for the bill, it wasn't a clean sweep when being passed through Congress.

    The Juneteenth legislation was voted against by 14 Republicans in the House.

  • Katie Balevic

    JUNETEENTH WILL BE AMERICA’S 12TH FEDERAL HOLIDAY 

    Federal employees will receive a paid day off on June 19, or on the nearest Friday or Monday to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Texas first made Juneteenth a state holiday in 1980, and “every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth” in the decades following, according to CNN.

    Some cities and companies also recognize the holiday. In 2020, Juneteenth was formally recognized by New York City as a yearly official city holiday and public school holiday, starting the year after.

    It will become the 12th federal holiday in America.

  • Katie Balevic

    WHEN DOES JUNETEENTH START BEING A FEDERAL HOLIDAY? 

    The bill sailed through the US Senate, gaining unanimous approval on June 15 before being passed to Congress.

    The House of Representatives then also passed the legislation the following day, establishing June 19 as a legal public holiday.

    It will officially become a federal holiday upon President Joe Biden signs it into law, which is expected to take place on Thursday. 

  • Katie Balevic

    CONGRESS VOTES TO MAKE JUNETEENTH A FEDERAL HOLIDAY 

    Lawmakers have voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday to commemorate the day when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free.

    The drive to pass the legislation again gained momentum in wake of the Black Lives Matter protests over the last year.

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