Congress Makes Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

The House voted today on legislation establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

The Senate unanimously passed the legislation yesterday. The holiday becomes effective when the president signs it into law. It is unclear when that will happen but it is not expected to become law in time for federal employees to observe the holiday this year.

NTEU welcomes this recognition of an important and meaningful date in our nation’s history. On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and bring the news of freedom to the last enslaved African Americans. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Part of NTEU's collective work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the federal workplace involves continually expanding our understanding of the roots of inequity. Honoring Juneteenth as a national holiday is a reminder of a painful past, a celebration of a vital milestone, and an opportunity to understand and work toward an equitable future. 

NTEU hopes members observe this important day with family and friends, celebrate African American culture and heritage, or join in a volunteer activity to advance the ongoing fight for racial justice.