America's date with history: Biden makes Juneteenth, marking end of slavery in US, an official holiday

As US President Joe Biden declared June 19 as a federal holiday for 'Juneteenth', we take a look at the history of the Emancipation Day

'Learn from history'

Juneteenth, portmanteau of June and nineteenth, is annually observed on June 19 to salute and pay respects to the thousands of African-Americans who were held captive and enslaved nearly 400 years ago


Emancipation Proclamation

On January 01, 1863, the then US President, Abraham Lincoln had revealed an Emancipation Proclamation that stated that anyone and everyone held as slaves in the states "henceforward shall be free". 

However, many torturers did not disclose this announcement to their African-American slaves and continued employing them in inhumane conditions


Major Granger to rescue!

Then, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger reached Galveston to make the slaves aware of the end of the Civil War and announce their freedom from their slavery days.

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." Granger said in his announcement in 1865, as per records made available by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Celebrations for Juneteenth began in 1866 and people started organising cookouts, musical performances, cultural gatherings, prayer meetings, reading sessions and much more.


Black Lives Matter

Last year, the movement grew manifolds as people took to streets to protest against the rising violence, discrimination and police brutality against the community that has led to deaths of several African-Americans in the US, France and several other countries all around the world.

Under the rule of former US President Donald Trump, the legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was blocked by the Senate, as the Republican Ron Johnson claimed another federal holiday would result in taxpayers paying millions of dollars to give federal government employees an additional holiday.

Protesters march as part of Juneteenth celebrations in Brooklyn, June 19, 2020. Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed last year that Juneteenth would be an official holiday. City workers learned this week they would not be getting a paid day off after all. (Byron Smith © 2021 The New York Times)

(Photograph:The New York Times)

2021 is special

This year, the US President Joe Biden signed legislation marking a new holiday for June 19. 

Up till now, Juneteenth was celebrated as a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia. It is a paid holiday in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington state, and now in Ohio.


Grandmother of Juneteenth

Opal Lee (2nd L), the activist known as the grandmother of Juneteenth, was also present as the US President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House on June 17.


Achievers of the community

President Biden also invited American entertainer Usher (L) to the ceremony. He is spotted speaking with US Congresswomen Cori Bush (R) and Ayanna Pressley in this picture.


Marked by mural

A 5,000-square-foot mural created by Reginald C. Adams, at the spot where in 1865, Gen Gordon Granger issued the orders that resulted in the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state, in Galveston, Texas, on May 5, 2021. (Montinique Monroe © 2021 The New York Times).

(Photograph:The New York Times)

Tribute to George Floyd

A George Floyd statue by artist Chris Carnabuci is unveiled in front of the Brooklyn Library at Grand Army Plaza as part of Juneteenth celebrations in Brooklyn, New York on June 19, 2021. 

According to a local council Member Farah Louis’ office, the statue will be on display at Flatbush Junction for about two to three weeks and then it will be moved to Union Square in Manhattan.


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