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Juneteenth Now a Federal Holiday

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 6/18/2021

A bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021. The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was a bipartisan effort led by Texans U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Fitting, as Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday in 1980.
This year, Juneteenth comes at a significant time in America, as police reform acts and voting rights protections remain stalled in Congress and many state legislatures are trying to control how educators teach history in the classroom. Yet symbolic wins still matter, Washington Post writer Christine Emba argues.
As we all take this time to recognize Juneteenth, read ATPE’s 2020 blog post, with a few timely updates, on Juneteenth below:
Juneteenth, celebrated on and around June 19, is the name given to Emancipation Day by African Americans in Texas and is now celebrated nationwide. Although it’s often cited as America’s second independence day and one of the most popular annual celebrations of emancipation from slavery in the country, many Americans still don’t know about this important holiday.
The origins of Juneteenth began on June 19, 1865, when Union Major-General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read General Order No. 3, which stated, in part:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
Celebrations soon began, and Juneteenth became akin to another Fourth of July for Black Americans. As this country continues to strive for full equality and justice to all Americans, the importance of celebrating and acknowledging Juneteenth has never been more vital.
As of this writing, 46 states and Washington, D.C., recognize Juneteenth in some capacity as a holiday or official observance, but Juneteenth has yet to be declared a federal holiday. A growing list of companies, such as Twitter, Nike, Square, and Vox Media, have now declared Juneteenth a paid company holiday.
Here’s a roundup of resources you can use at home or in the classroom to better understand and know Juneteenth: