Americans Celebrate Juneteenth: A New Federal Holiday

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Photo by Joshua Mcknight from Pexels

Juneteenth commemorations have taken on a whole new significance 155 years after the last of the enslaved African-Americans were released. On this Saturday, the United States observed Juneteenth. This week, President Biden signed legislation declaring the day a national holiday. On Friday, several big companies observed Juneteenth by holding moments of quiet, closing early, or giving staff a paid day off. However, for many others, the day is much more than that.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, has been a day for African Americans to celebrate freedom with parades and festivities similar to those held on the Fourth of July for generations. The Black community had to keep these celebrations private during the Jim Crow era, but they have regained popularity in recent years.

Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris said on Thursday that the holiday’s designation as a national holiday, which joins the country’s other ten annual paid federal holidays, is significant because “these are days when we, as a nation, have decided to stop and take stock, and often to acknowledge our history,” she said.

Berry, an African American history scholar, claimed that instructors did the same thing with Martin Luther King Jr. lesson plans can be constructed around Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday in 1983. Its new status as a national holiday might help historians get additional funding and learn more about the 250,000 still enslaved Americans in Texas, she said. According to a May survey, Americans prefer studying the history of Juneteenth in schools rather than declaring it a government holiday. Nearly half of respondents thought Juneteenth should be included in the history curriculum in public schools, while 35% of Americans said it should be a national holiday last month.

“We can’t rest until the promise of equality is realized for every one of us in every part of this country,” Mr. President Biden said. The establishment of Juneteenth as a holiday does not eliminate racial inequities in the country, but it does provide a greater chance to address them. However, by making today a federal holiday to commemorate freedom, it is possible to address the inequities and inequalities that still exist in the United States.

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