President Joe Biden signed a bill Thursday making June 19, or ‘Juneteenth,’ a federal holiday that commemorates the end of slavery.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the “Juneteenth National Independence Day” act Tuesday, while the House of Representatives voted 415-14 in favor of the holiday, Wednesday, before passing it to the president for signature.
“Today we consecrate Juneteenth for what it aught to be, what it must be —a national holiday,” Biden said before signing the bill Thursday. “I’m especially pleased that we showed the nation that we could come together as Democrats and Republicans to commemorate this day with an overwhelming bipartisan support of the congress. I hope this is the beginning of a change in how we deal with one another.”
While the emancipation proclamation took effect in 1863, it was not recognized in Confederate states. On June 19, 1865, the army announced that more than 250,000 enslaved Black people were newly freed in Texas, according to the Smithsonian.
This is the first federal holiday signed into law since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983.
After the announcement of the new holiday, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (BLMLA) president Melina Abdullah responded, saying, “We don’t need your holiday,” and suggesting that reparations be paid instead.
BLMLA and will host a Juneteenth rally and march this Saturday, starting from the Ralphs grocery parking lot on Obama Boulevard, asking “non-black allies to sit this one out.”
Another Juneteenth rally will be held at El Dorado park in Long Beach, with minority speakers in support of law enforcement and a recall on Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon.
Both rallies will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday.