US Senate votes to make Juneteenth a holiday

Marco Green
June 16, 2021

The Senate on Tuesday has unanimously passed legislation establishing Juneteenth, June 19, as a federal holiday. It is expected to easily pass the House, which would send it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

"The stakes are a little different", Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke University African American studies professor, told the New York Times last June.

"We want to make sure that we fly this flag high to commemorate all those who died during the Civil War, all of those who were enslaved, and then what the Emancipation Proclamation means for this city and for the whole nation as a whole", said Vice Mayor Saundra Cherry.

The holiday is celebrated on June 19, and it began in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation.

"Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past", said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. It takes just one senator's objection to block such agreements.

An attempt to pass the bill previous year foundered when Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, objected to the cost of adding another federal holiday to the calendar.

"While it still seems odd that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter. Therefore, I do not intend to object", Johnson said in a statement before Tuesday's vote.

The bipartisan bill, authored by Democratic Sen.

"While it still seems odd that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter", Johnson said.

Juneteenth is already formally recognized in 47 states as well as Washington D.C., but few states celebrate it as a paid holiday for employees.

The celebration kicked off last Saturday and continues with daily events culminating with three separate celebration across the city this Saturday, June 19.

Paid holidays for city employees are negotiated and dictated in union contracts; it is unclear how much the cost to the city will be.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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