Juneteenth Is Now a National Holiday, but There’s Still More Work to Do

It’s Juneteenth—a holiday that celebrates the end of legal slavery in the United States. Juneteenth gets its name because it marks June 19, 1865, the day a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free.

The last two years have seen the broadest recognition of Juneteenth in at least 100 years. Two years ago, Juneteenth coincided with an unprecedented national protest demanding accountability for the police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Public pressure pushed major companies to give employees a paid holiday. And in June 2021, President Biden signed into law an act that made Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday. (Fourteen Republicans voted against making Juneteenth a holiday.) Opal Lee, a 95-year-old teacher, is credited for leading the charge to get Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday. 


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