It's official: Juneteenth is a federal holiday
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jun 17, 2021
In the depths of the Civil War, President Lincoln declared slavery illegal in the Confederacy. But it took two more years, until after war’s end, to free the last enslaved persons in the South.
June 19, 1865 was that day—a crucial moment in the liberation of African Americans. Annual celebrations followed, gaining the name “Juneteenth,” which this week Congress finally made a federal holiday. Federal employees and their organizations immediately joined our lawmakers and the rest of the country in supporting this step toward recognizing the difficult truths of our past, commemorating the great progress made since, and acknowledging the need for even more tomorrow.
“On June 19, we commemorate the emancipation of the last enslaved Black people in the United States,” the National Federation of Federal Employees said, in a statement
. “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,” it concluded.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—which also has federal employee members—likewise offered its strong support of the bipartisan move.
“We applaud the Senate and House of Representatives for voting to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, an important bipartisan statement of our values that recognizes how far we have come, but also how far we have yet to go in the struggle for equality,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a release
“As we continue to reckon with our nation’s history of discrimination and violence against African Americans, it is past time that we honor the struggle of African Americans who successfully freed themselves from the bonds of slavery and their descendants who continue to fight for equal rights and freedoms for everyone.”
“We must now work, on Juneteenth and every other day, to educate our communities about the difficult truths of our past. Only then can we successfully mobilize to combat the deep-seated racism and indifference that persists today.”
The American Federation of Government Employees—the largest federal employee union—has also has expressed support, in various communications
in recent years, for commemorating and honoring Juneteenth.