On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.
Specifically, the Act amends Section 6103(a) of Title 5 of the United States Code, by inserting after the item relating to Memorial Day the following: “Juneteenth National Independence Day, June 19.”
Celebrated by African Americans yearly since the Civil War era, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
President Biden offered these remarks at the signing of this historic law:
One hundred and fifty-six years ago — one hundred and fifty-six years — June 19th, 1865 — John, thanks for being here — a major general of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Americans in Texas from bondage. A day, as you all know — I’m going to repeat some of what was said — that became known as Juneteenth. You all know that. A day that reflects what the Psalm tell us: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation, and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound — in my view — profound weight and profound power.
A day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take — what I’ve long called “America’s original sin.”
At the same time, I also remember the extraordinary capacity to heal, and to hope, and to emerge from the most painful moments and a bitter, bitter version of ourselves, but to make a better version of ourselves.
You know, today, we consecrate Juneteenth for what it ought to be, what it must be: a national holiday.