The United States Senate unanimously passed the resolution establishing June 19 as the Juneteenth National Independence Day. This legal public holiday will commemorate the end of slavery in U.S. federal agencies.
On January 1, 1863, The Emancipation Declaration abolished slavery on the United States territory.
But it is only 2 years later, on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas that the last enslaved Black people got news they were finally free. The Confederate soldiers, part of the 11 states that seceded from the United States during the Civil War, had surrendered in April 1865.
The bill was blocked in 2020 by only one Republican Senator from Wisconsin who opposed the holiday with the cost for U.S. taxpayers to fund the day off of federal employees. Most states already recognize the date, with a commemoration or a state holiday. The holiday was proposed to the Senate in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, during which several businesses also included Juneteenth as a company holiday paid to their employees.
Federal holiday influence paid time off in private companies
The Senator however dropped the objection last week as "there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter". The legislation should now pass the House of Representatives and the desk of the President with no difficulty.
Juneteenth will therefore soon to be the 12th federal holiday. During that date, non-essential federal government offices are closed in all states. Federal employees from agencies like NASA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Education or those working in National Parks will have a paid day off. The stock market trading is usually suspended.
States are not bound to observe the date on the same day as the federal holiday. Many states also has holidays that are not observed by the federal government, like the Malcom X day in Illinois or the Rosa Parks day in California, Missouri, Ohio and Oregon.
The Congress has the authority to create holidays for federal institutions only. National holidays, which would force all businesses of the country to close, don’t exist in the U.S. Most businesses align the holidays, that they can provide at their discretions, with the Federal public holidays.
Media sources and useful links:
- Daily Digest, U.S. Senate, June 2021, Free access