Friday, June 18, 2021
Juneteenth National Independence Day
June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to officially end slavery in the United States. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed two and a half years earlier, slavery remained largely unaffected in Texas. On June 19, 1865, upon entering Galveston, U.S. General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3:
“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
The celebrations that followed the reading of this Order continue today.
President Joe Biden signed legislation yesterday, June 17, establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. This bill makes Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th national holiday. The House voted 415 to 14 to send the bill to Biden, while the Senate passed the bill unanimously. Juneteenth National Independence Day is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983. The United States Office of Personnel Management stated that most federal employees would observe the new holiday today, since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year.
APFA recognizes the 156th celebration of Juneteenth as a day when America realized a wrong and set about to make it right. While we still have much work to do, we pause to commemorate this day and continue fighting for equality and justice for all.