The holiday, which is celebrated on June 19, has already been introduced in most states.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday signs a bill to recognize June 19 as a federal holiday marking the abolition of slavery in the United States. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the document and sent it to the President for signature.
The bill’s signing ceremony is scheduled for 3: 30 p.m., after which the President and Vice President Kamala Harris will make statements at the White House.
On June 19, 1865, a Union general notified a group of enslaved African Americans in Texas that they had been freed two years earlier by a proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
During a debate in the House of Representatives, Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas said that she had introduced a bill to recognize June 19 as a federal holiday “in memory of the end of slavery, the original sin of America.”
The House of Representatives approved the bill by 415 votes to 14. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday.
Republican Congressman Guy Reschenthaler highlighted the role his home state of Pennsylvania played in the Civil War. According to him, the announcement of June 19 as a national holiday will raise awareness of these events. “This law will celebrate the history and culture of African Americans and honor the memory of Americans who died fighting to end slavery,” he said.
Texas officially declared June 19 a holiday in 1980, and later this holiday was officially recognized in most states. It is called Juneteenth, Freedom Day, or the Day of the Abolition of Slavery. According to the bill, the new federal holiday will be called “National Independence Day on June 19.”
June 19 will be the eleventh holiday celebrated at the federal level, adding to the list that includes holidays such as Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Martin Luther King Day.