A group of Senators on Friday announced legislation to make Juneteenth — a day to celebrate freedom in the Black community — a federal holiday. Later that day, the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced its support of the bill calling it “long overdue.”
“The national recognition of Juneteenth is long overdue,” said SPLC Action Fund President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret Huang. “We welcome the introduction of this bill to commemorate Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Its introduction this year highlights the demands of protestors for an end to the killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It is only by acknowledging the scourge of racism throughout our nation’s history that we will be able to move forward together. We urge all members of Congress to support its passage.”
Juneteenth is a commemoration of the moment the last enslaved people in the United States learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865, which was over two years after President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19, Black people in Galveston, Texas, were notified their freedom had finally been secured.