Americans today observe the nation’s newest federal holiday – Juneteenth, which was only recognized officially last year.
The origins and recognition of Juneteenth are significant to our nation but the new holiday is subject to some growing pain, as for only the second time ever, New Jersey will celebrate it as a state holiday on Friday and a federal holiday on Monday.
Juneteenth National Independence Day falls on Sunday, June 19, 2022, and is a federal holiday according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Most federal employees will receive the following Monday as a day off of work but New jersey designated Friday as its legal holiday.
Legislation establishing the holiday was passed by Congress on June 16, 2021, and signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden the following day.
Juneteenth had previously been established as a state holiday in Texas in 1980, with a number of other states later declaring it a state holiday or day of observance.
The Juneteenth holiday is not only a cause for commemoration but also a time to reckon with our country’s history and its impact on the African American community and Black people.
It was not until June 19, 1865, two years after the emancipation of enslaved people was issued on Jan. 1, 1863, that a Union U.S. Army general proclaimed the freedom of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas.
As those who were formerly enslaved were recognized for the first time as citizens, nearly nine decades after our nation’s founding, Black Americans came to commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations across the country, building new lives and a new tradition that we honor today.
“It is a day that reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve,” said Biden. “As I said on the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, great nations don’t ignore the most painful chapters of their past. Great nations confront them. We come to terms with them.”
“On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice,” said Biden. “And, we celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility. That work has been led throughout our history by abolitionists and educators, civil rights advocates and lawyers, courageous activists and trade unionists, public officials, and everyday Americans who have helped make real the ideals of our founding documents for all.”