It’s official – the Biden Administration has deemed Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday.
The president on Thursday signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act to commemorate the day Union soldiers began enforcing Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, marking the abolishment of slavery.
“Today we consecrate Juneteenth for what it ought to be – what it must be – a national holiday,” Biden said during a signing ceremony at the White House.
“As the Vice President noted, a holiday that will join the others of our national celebrations, our laborers who built this nation, our service men and women who served and died in its defense,” the president continued.
Adding that this is “the first new national holiday since the creation of Martin Luther King Holiday nearly four decades ago,” Biden stated at the ceremony attended by Harris and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
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Before the bill was sent to Biden, Congress passed the Act in a 415-14 vote after the Senate passed it unanimously.
This is the first piece of legislation Biden signed that was met with overwhelming bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans.
However, some Republicans raised concerns about the potentially misleading verbiage of Biden’s legislation.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who voted against the bill, said although he fully supports the idea of celebrating abolition, he disagrees with titling it “National Independence Day.”
“I fully support creating a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery, a dark portion of our nation’s history,” Massie said during the Wednesday vote. “However, naming this day ‘National Independence Day’ will create confusion and push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity.”
Despite Massie’s “no” vote along with 13 other House Republicans; Biden signed the bill into law in permanent remembrance of the Emancipation Proclamation enacted by Lincoln, who was a Republican.
There are indeed valid concerns about potential future racial division on the idea of “Independence Day,” but this still seems to be a positive step in the right direction for repairing America’s relationship with the Black community.