Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which would designate June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, an official federal holiday.
“Recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday is long overdue. As Americans, we need to acknowledge and reflect upon our country’s legacy of slavery, but also celebrate Black Americans and the innumerable contributions they have made and continue to make to shape our nation. The current nationwide calls for Racial justice are strong reminders that although this country has a long way to go to achieve true equity, by working together and uplifting one another, we can start to dismantle the systemic racism embedded in our country and build a better future for all Americans.”
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers traveled to Galveston, Texas to spread the news that the Civil War had ended and that those enslaved were now free. This news came two and a half years after the January 1, 1863 effective date of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act provides an opportunity for the entire country to recognize, honor and uplift Black Americans, and to reflect upon the historic inequality Black Americans have and continue to endure today. Recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday highlights the strides America has made in attempts to reach racial equality, but also reminds us how far we still need to go.