Juneteenth 2021: What Is Juneteenth? Know Significance of the New Federal Holiday ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day’ in the US

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US President Joe Biden on Thursday, June 17, signed a bill, designating Juneteenth National Independence Day as a legal public holiday. President Biden along with Vice President Kamala Harris authorized Juneteenth (June 19) as a federal holiday, commemorating the symbolic end of slavery in the United States. Happy Juneteenth Day 2021 Wishes, Quotes & HD Images: Inspirational Sayings, Powerful Messages, WhatsApp Greetings and Wallpapers to Celebrate Freedom Day in America

“Signing the law was one of the greatest honors, I will have had as President,” President Biden said during the signing ceremony at White House. “Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound- in my view – profound weight and profound power,” said President Biden.

Hailing the decision, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names- Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day. And today, a national holiday”. During the signing ceremony, Vice President Harris addressed the guests and said that we are gathered in a "house built by enslaved people," and the holiday would be an occasion to "reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to action."

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth (June + nineteenth) commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. One hundred and fifty-six years ago, on June 19th, 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Americans in Texas from bondage.

As per the Congressional Research Service (CRS), however, the decision to end slavery from the United States was taken almost 2½ years earlier with the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by the then President Abraham Lincoln. The Proclamation had legally freed slaves in Texas on January 1, 1863. However, the information was withheld from the enslaved people, holding them enslaved through one more harvest season. So, June 19th, 1865 became a symbolic date representing African-American freedom.

According to the data available on Congressional Research Service (CRS), Major General Gordon Granger said, “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.

The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Significance:

Juneteenth rose to wider prominence last year following the highly contentious death of George Floyd, an African-American. People from several corners of the world took to streets to protest against the police brutality against the Black People.

During the address at the White House, President Biden also remembered victims of the Tulsa race massacre. “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments of the past. They embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And in remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger,” President Biden added.

Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, and civil-rights activist talked about three major evils facing this country: “the evil of racism, the evil of poverty, and the evil of war.” In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr in his speech had said, “Racism is a reality in many sections of our world today. Racism is still the coloured man’s burden and the white man’s shame. And the world will never rise to its full moral or political or even social maturity until racism is totally eradicated. Racism is exactly what it says.

It is a myth of the inferior race; it is the notion that a particular race is worthless and degraded innately and the tragedy of racism is that it is based not on an empirical generalization but on an ontological affirmation. It is the idea that the very being of a people is inferior.”

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