Black Lives Matter: President Joe Biden Signs Juneteenth Act Into Law

by Duke Magazine

Following the passage of the bill by the US House of Representatives, President Joe Biden has signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

Biden signed the bill on Thursday during a White House ceremony turning the day Union soldiers and Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced all enslaved Black Americans were now free. The law is taking effect immediately and since the holiday is on a Saturday this year, all federal employees will have Friday off.

“Today is a day to reflect what the Psalm tell us,” Biden said. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and a promise of an early morning to come. This is a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain and the terrible toll slavery took on the country.”

Juneteenth was first celebrated in Galveston in 1980 and every state has recognized it except South Dakota that have picked up the holiday. It is marked to celebrate an end to Black slavery in the US and which has now become independence day for Black people. During the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movements last year, many US corporations and companies have added the day to their holiday calendars.

Despite the vote against it by 14 Republicans, the bill easily passed the US Senate earlier in the week and the House on Wednesday.

The Congressional Black Caucus, under the leadership of Chairwoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, issued the following statement on the recent passage of legislation elevating Juneteenth to a national holiday: “Passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, a day which officially recognizes the end of enslavement in the United States, is an important and long overdue step in commemorating the end of one of the most painful periods in our nation’s history,” said Chairwoman Beatty.

“The Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have waged this fight for decades and, while we will celebrate this milestone, let us not forget how much further we must go. Voting rights, the racial wealth gap, justice in policing and so many more issues remain to be overcome – and, through Our Power, Our Message, the Congressional Black Caucus will continue to lead the fight on these issues. We look forward to joining President Biden this afternoon as he signs this bill into law.”

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