It’s a celebration! Juneteenth — a day commemorating the unofficial end of slavery in America — is finally being recognized as a national holiday. On June 17, President Joe Biden signed into law the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
President Biden, who called the move “one of the greatest honors” he’ll have as President, signed off on Juneteenth National Independence Day on the sixth anniversary of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre and weeks after the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
“We must understand that Juneteenth represents not only the commemoration of the end of slavery in America more than 150 years ago, but the ongoing work to have to bring true equity and racial justice into American society,” said the President.
Juneteenth National Independence Day becomes the first federal holiday to be introduced in more than 35 years. Prior to this, Martin Luther King Day was the last newly created American holiday.
It’s been a really long time coming. It’s been 156 years to be exact. Over the years, there have been many calls from the likes of Opal Lee and many others to have Juneteenth receive the same respect as national holidays such as Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day. Two-thirds of Americans are currently in support of June 19 being granted holiday status.
Following the racial awakening that took place in 2020, the voices bringing attention to Juneteenth and its significance in not just Black history, but American history as a whole have continued to get louder.
“Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is a huge win and milestone, but we can’t stop here,” Pharrell Williams recently tweeted. “I continue to encourage all companies and corporations to recognize and observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday.”
Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is a huge win and milestone, but we can’t stop here. I continue to encourage all companies and corporations to recognize and observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) June 16, 2021
Last year, the Grammy Award-winning artist and producer successfully petitioned for Juneteenth to be recognized as a state holiday in his hometown of Virginia. The “Happy” singer, who actively promotes the Juneteenth Pledge, is also collaborating with creator of Black-ish and BlackAF, Kenya Barris to produce a Juneteenth-themed musical for Netflix.
According to Donald Trump, he also played a role in spreading the word about Juneteenth. The former president once implied that “nobody had ever heard of” Juneteenth until he made it “very famous”… SMH!
No matter how you may have learned about Juneteenth, you can celebrate the holiday with our Juneteenth playlist.
Photo via Shutterstock