DENVER (KDVR)- Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. President Joe Biden just signed a bill to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day across the nation. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management says most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18, seeing that the holiday falls on a weekend this year.
The bill unanimously passed the U.S. Senate this week, but in the house 14 Republicans voted no. All of Colorado’s congressional members voted to approve the holiday.
The latest federal holiday to be added to the calendar before Juneteenth was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, created back in 1983. Rep. Jason Crow said the move to recognize Juneteenth should have been made a long time ago.
“It was such a great moment last night to actually vote for this,” Crow told FOX31’s Gabrielle Franklin. “This is something that’s long overdue to help us recognize our history as a nation to help us get on the path towards better healing and reconciliation. A part of that is being honest about our history.”
The holiday originated in Galveston Texas back in 1865 when slaves were told they were free on June 19, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrations ensued following the announcement; communities across the nation have honored the celebration every year since.
Community members in Denver have commemorated the celebration for decades with the annual Juneteenth Music Festival taking place in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood. Organizers plan to celebrate this year’s holiday in-person with an entire lineup of events. The City of Denver made Juneteenth a commemorative holiday earlier this year. It is recognized as a ceremonial holiday in the state of Colorado.