June 20, 2022
Today the U.S. observes Juneteenth, its youngest national holiday. President Biden signed the bill establishing it as a federal holiday last year, just two days before it was marked for the first time.
“Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments,” President Biden said during 2021’s bill signing ceremony. “They embrace them. In short, this day doesn’t just celebrate the past. It calls for action today.”
The holiday, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., is making only its second appearance as a national holiday. But it has been celebrated in Black communities since 1866. This makes it the oldest known holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
Juneteenth is actually June 19, but as a federal holiday it’s observed on the closest Monday.
Juneteenth was recognized by almost every state and by presidential proclamations before 2020. But the death of George Floyd and subsequent political activism prompted the creation of a formal federal holiday.
A Day for Reflection
Project 21 is a national leadership network of Black conservatives sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. The network provides research and commentary on public policy issues. For 23 years, Project 21 members have promoted Juneteenth as a means of encouraging community, self-improvement and American exceptionalism.
“Juneteenth is a great time for all Americans to reflect upon the many invaluable contributions that black Americans have made to establish America as a great nation and to make it what it is in the world today,” said Project 21 member and pastor James Jackson. “The Juneteenth holiday is a great time for Americans to talk with each other and their children about Juneteenth’s significance and how important it is to make sure that our children are informed about the truths and realities of slavery.”
But what is Juneteenth all about, anyway? For a few quick facts on the history and observance of Juneteenth, scroll through the gallery above.
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