Sens. Durbin, Duckworth join bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday


WASHINGTON (WMBD) — Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are co-sponsoring legislation that would make Juneteenth a federally-celebrated holiday.

It is titled the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” and it commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, which is observed of June 19. It is colloquially known as “Emancipation Day”, “Jubilee Day”, and “Juneteenth Independence Day”.

Juneteeth is currently recognized as an official holiday by 46 states and D.C. Texas was the first state to recognize the event as a paid holiday in 1980.

“Juneteenth reminds us that we must continue the fight to ensure equality, justice, and economic opportunity for all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin,” Durbin said.

“This bill would recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday to ensure we never forget slavery’s legacy on our nation’s history, but also how African Americans, through the years, have turned a time of confusion and resistance into a celebration of community, freedom, and an opportunity to commemorate when all people were finally free in America.”

“155 years ago, word finally spread to Galveston, Texas, that the enslavement of Black Americans had ended. It was a day of celebration, and in the century and a half since, Juneteenth has symbolized progress and how far our nation has come,” Duckworth said.

“After weeks of recent nationwide protests over countless murders of Black men and women by police, it’s all too obvious of how far we still have to go. By recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, Americans will have the opportunity to not only observe the abolishment of the enslavement of Black Americans, but to honor and reflect on the history, struggles and achievements of Black Americans as well.”

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