Happy Juneteenth, everyone!

Celebrated since 1866, Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. For much time, activists have sought more recognition for Juneteenth for much reason. Juneteenth is often omitted in history books and overlooked by non-Black Americans. I, for one, was not aware of the holiday until my friend, Alyssa Lo, brought it up last year. She also wrote an article on Juneteenth and its significance, so do check it out at http://voiceoffrisco.com/the-history-and-significance-of-juneteenth/!

On Thursday, many were pleased to hear that President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday. But before we go further, it is time to recognize what has happened to make it the national holiday it is now.

During the 1960s Civil Rights movement, Juneteenth celebrations declined. However, Juneteenth made a resurgence in the 80s and 90s. In fact, Texas became the first state to establish it as a holiday in 1980. In 1994, leaders from around the United States gathered at the Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans to advocate for more recognition of Juneteenth. This meeting would lead to many organizations and causes centered on Juneteenth, including the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.

In 2000, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation’s founder and chairman, Rev. Ronald Myers began a campaign to make it a national holiday of observance and for all US states to recognize it as a state holiday. According to the Baltimore Sun, by 2002, eight states officially recognized Juneteenth.

Combined with such campaigns, Opal Lee also played a significant part in helping Juneteenth become a federal holiday. Known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth,” Ms. Lee has advocated for more recognition of Juneteenth with an annual 2.5-mile walk in her town since 2016. The 2.5 miles represents the two-and-a-half years it took for word of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation to reach Texas. It is safe to say her hard work has paid off.

In multiple years, the Senate passed bipartisan resolutions to honor Juneteenth Independence Day. However, only last year, lawmakers considered making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement and similar antiracism movements, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey introduced bills to their chambers, hoping to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Unfortunately, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson believed that giving workers another paid day of leave would cost too much.

This year, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Sen. Edward Markey renewed their efforts. To their luck, Sen. Ron Johnson announced he would not block the bill. Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution. Wednesday, the House approved the measure. And finally, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on Thursday.

To see what President Biden had said regarding the bill, you may visit the link below, provided by the White House.


Originating in Galveston, Texas, people have celebrated Juneteenth for around 155 years. It is now the eleventh American federal holiday and the first holiday to obtain legal observance since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. It is fitting in a way that the first national holiday to be signed into law after Martin Luther King Jr. Day was Juneteenth. Thank you for reading, and stay safe!