Shutterstock photo by alafarm

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery on June 15.

The bill passed with bipartisan support. Sen. Majority leader Steney Hoyer thanked Sen. John Coryn (R-TX), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Sheila Jackson (D-TX) for their collaboration in a tweet Wednesday morning. 

The legislation died on the senate floor only a year prior, gaining momentum after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020 before being blocked by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WIS). 

RELATED: What is Juneteenth?

“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,” Johnson said, deciding it’s easier to give in to popular demand and focus his energy elsewhere. “Therefore, I do not intend to object.”

The bill is now expected to speed though the House, possibly landing on Pres. Biden’s desk by the 19th.

The history

Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the first day of 1863, making slavery illegal within the Confereracy but continuing to allow it in Deleware and Kentucky, some states refused to comply until forced to by the presence of Union soldiers. On June 19 1865, Maj. Gen. Granger ended the final holdout in Galveston, Texas with General Order No. 3

“… In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor,” as they went. 

Will Wright, the Chief Creative Officer for Galveston Historical Foundation, told Scriberr News about the day Texas slaves were told they were free.

RELATED: Juneteenth Celebrations Across the U.S. this Weekend

 “Gen. Granger’s men marched through Galveston reading General Order, No. 3 at numerous locations, including their headquarters at the Osterman Building, 1861 Custom House, courthouse, and then the Negro Church on Broadway, as Reedy Chapel-AME Church was referred to then. The order informed all Texans that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves were free.”

Today, the Osterman building is marked by one of Texas’ 200 historical markers, commemorating the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, General Order No. 3, and the first Juneteenth celebration in 1866. 

“Since then, the annual commemoration has grown from local roots to a national celebration featuring parades, readings, processions, and more,” Wright said. “In 1979, the Galveston Juneteenth Committee under the leadership of former city manager Doug Matthews and Texas Representative Al Edwards initiated an annual Juneteenth Celebration on the lawn of Ashton Villa at 2328 Broadway. The event commemorates the reading of General Order No. 3 through prayer, reflections, and community leadership.”

Written ByCynthia Zelaya

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