ON June 15, the United States Senate passed a resolution establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
But prior to that resolution, the holiday was celebrated in several different states and gained recognition throughout the country as an important date commemorating the end of slavery in the US.
What was the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday?
Although the US Senate passed the resolution to make Juneteenth a holiday recognized throughout the country on June 15, it was already a state holiday in several places.
The first state to mark the occasion as a state holiday was Texas. By 2008, almost half of states in the US observed the holiday.
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.
However, only a few note it as a paid holiday.
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.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday celebrates the day slaves in Texas learned of the executive order that marked the last day of slavery in the United States.
It originated in Galveston, Texas, and recognizes the day Union General Gordon Granger rode to the city and told slaves of their emancipation in 1865.
"In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” he read to the crowd there.
Some people celebrate it like the Fourth of July, with gatherings including picnics and parties with family and friends.
Is Juneteenth a national holiday?
The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, an association based in Mississippi, has worked for years to get Juneteenth made into a national holiday.
The Senate has passed a resolution marking the holiday, but it still needs to be voted on by the House.
It is expected to pass in the House after the Senate passed the legislation Tuesday, after being previously blocked by Sen Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in 2020.
In order to be recognized on a federal level, President Joe Biden will need to sign the resolution into law.
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