June 19 has long been unofficially celebrated in the United States as the Day of Liberation from Slavery.
On Tuesday, a bill was passed in the Senate, according to which June 19 (the so-called “Juneteenth”) will become a federal holiday marking the abolition of slavery in the United States.
According to the bill, June 19 will be the twelfth holiday celebrated at the federal level. The bill is expected to be passed quickly by the House of Representatives, after which it will be signed by President Joe Biden.
On June 19, 1865, the last enslaved African Americans learned that they were now free. The soldiers of the Confederate Army surrendered in April 1865, but the black residents of Galveston, Texas, did not hear the news of freedom from the soldiers of the Army of the North until June 19 of that year.
“Declaring June nineteenth a federal holiday is an important step toward recognizing the mistakes of the past,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, “but we must continue to work to ensure equality and justice, and to fulfill the promises made in President Lincoln’s emancipation manifesto and our Constitution.”
The Senate passed the bill by consensus agreement, speeding up the process of reviewing the legislation. An objection from one senator is enough to block such agreements.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson, representing Wisconsin, objected to the bill in the previous Congress because of the perceived costs and the lack of debate about its passage. Johnson said that he supports the resolution recognizing the significance of June 19, but expressed concern that as a result, all federal employees will receive another paid day off, which will cost the budget about $ 600 million a year in addition.
This time, Johnson did not object to the passage of the bill. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts and 60 other co-sponsors participated in the drafting of the bill.
On Monday, Senator Markey tweeted: “We have a long way to go to achieve racial justice in the United States, and we cannot achieve it without recognizing the original sin of our country – slavery. It is high time to make June 19 a federal holiday.” In the vast majority of states, June 19 is recognized as a holiday or is officially celebrated at the state level. According to the bill, the new federal holiday will be called “National Independence Day on June 19.”