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Days ahead of the Juneteenth festivities this weekend, it’s now being reported that the Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday to establish June 19 officially as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

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As CNN is reporting, the legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday — yes, paid time off and everything! — has been gaining momentum due in part to the Black Lives Matter protests influenced by the murder of George Floyd last year in addition to the Democrats’ takeover of the White House and Congress.

The Republican party played a huge part in stopping the bill initially, particularly via Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson who used money as an excuse to veto it, stating, “Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate.” He continued by adding, “While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter.”

Thankfully Johnson had a change of heart this week and decided to go against his initial concerns by dropping all objections, allowing for the bill’s passage in the Senate.


Here’s a quick history lesson on the fight to make Juneteenth a national holiday, via CNN:

“On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

In 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday. In the decades since, every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth, but only a handful of states observe it as a paid holiday.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee are among the members of Congress who led the effort to to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday.”

The next steps are for the bill to pass the House and then be signed by President Joe Biden to officially become law. Now more than ever is the perfect time to celebrate Juneteenth — here’s a few Black History docs to check out in order to get in the spirit!

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