President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed a bill establishing the 16th National Independence Day, a celebration that designates the end of slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday.
By making June 18th a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history, celebrate progress, and deal with the distance we have traveled, but the distance we have to travel, Biden said during remarks. Thursday in the East Room of the White House. The last federal holiday was created in 1983, when former President Ronald Reagan established Martin Luther King Jr.Day.
Great nations don’t walk away, Biden added. We accept the mistakes we have made.
The law takes effect immediately, and will be held on Friday, June 18, as it is the closest business day.
The bill faced only slight opposition in the House of Representatives earlier this week from some Republicans who called the measure a racial divide. Despite the protests, only 14 members of the Republican House of Representatives group voted against the legislation. The bill was approved unanimously in the Senate.
We are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people, said Harris, who signed the bill in her capacity as Speaker of the Senate. We are steps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And we are here to witness President Joe Biden establish June 14 as a national holiday.
During the debate in the House of Representatives, before the bill was passed, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus defended the legislation against Republicans who disagreed with the bill. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Democrat of Michigan, vice president of the CBC, refuted Republican Rep. Clay Higgins’s claim that June Deco chose Independence Day. Higgins, R-La., Ultimately voted in favor of the bill.
I want to tell my white colleagues on the other side: Gaining its independence from slavery in a country is different than a country gaining independence to rule themselves, Lawrence said. We have a responsibility to teach each generation of black and white Americans the pride of a people who have survived, resisted, and triumphed in this United States of America despite slavery.
June 19th, an acronym for the date June 19, honors the day enslaved black Americans gained freedom, two years after then-President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. On that date in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery.
Despite not being a formal federal holiday, most US states have celebrated June 19, also known as Emancipation Day, in some form. Texans began unofficially celebrating the occasion in 1866, and the state certified the holiday in 1980. In subsequent years, 48 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, have recognized the day.
I think this will be considered, to me, as one of the greatest honors I have had as president, Biden concluded.