The House of Representatives voted 415-14 on Wednesday night to establish June 19 as a federal holiday in the U.S. Called the 16th National Independence Day, the 156-year celebration commemorates the end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. Celebrated in 47 states and the District of Columbia, June 19th has long been viewed as a marker of the day that state-sanctioned slavery in America ended.
Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts were the sponsors of the bipartisan bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate on Tuesday. The bill then goes to President Biden’s desk, where it will surely become law.
June 16th programming hours of television networks, streaming services, film festivals, Broadway and more
“Our federal holidays are deliberately few and recognize the most important milestones,” said New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney. “I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States. State “.
The designation as a federal holiday means that federal government employees would have the day off each year on June 19, or an adjacent Monday or Friday.
The federal designation would also pressure businesses and local governments to align themselves. The last new federal holiday created was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted Wednesday that the 19th “will be the only federal holiday that recognizes the horrors of slavery and the transformative legacy of emancipation.”
Actress and producer Kerry Washington tweeted: “156 years later and the 16th is becoming a federal holiday.”
156 years later and #June it’s becoming a federal holiday
– kerry washington (@kerrywashington) June 16, 2021
The Washington post conveys a sense of how long the holidays, and African Americans themselves, have had to be recognized for their rights, struggles and achievements.
While Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved people in America in 1863, the nation was in the midst of Civil War and the southern states did not abide by the decree. Even after the South surrendered on April 9, 1865, it took some time for the news, and the federal forces that imposed it, to reach outlying states like Texas.
So on June 19, 1865, American Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas and marched through the streets reading the General Order number 3 just issued by Granger, which served as an announcement of the end of slavery for in accordance with Lincoln law. Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. At that time, there were just over 1,000 enslaved people in the city.
Annual celebrations of the event began the following year in Galveston, with a local newspaper recording that “eight hundred to one thousand men, women and children participated in the rally” in which the Emancipation Proclamation was read.
In the decades since, June 16 celebrations have spread across the United States. And now, they have been officially sanctioned by the United States government.