Nothing shows great appreciation and remembrance than getting a national holiday for a certain event or a deceased legend. A public holiday that seeks to recognize the importance of a person or day is valued just like a statue or naming a road, school, building, country, or town after someone. The tradition of celebrating historical days and national holidays in remembrance is prevalent in all countries worldwide. The most common national holidays are independence days of certain countries, iconic political leaders’ birthdays or days they passed on, tragic or disastrous events, and religious days. In the United States of America (US), it is regarded as a high honor for an event to be accorded a federal holiday.
The US Senate passed a bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday this week. This comes after several attempts were made to make this happen, but those efforts were fruitless. However, due to the surging of racial injustices and uprising in the US, like the country-wide protests after the George Floyd incident, many politicians and parliamentarians were motivated to vote for the bill. After uttering the motion to make Juneteenth a federal holiday done by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the bill was unanimously voted to pass by the Senate. No objections were put forward by those present [Source].
Juneteenth is a significant day to the Americans because it is a day that marks the abolition of slavery in the state as inspired by the late former US president Abraham Lincoln. A Civil War broke out between the Confederate Army led by General Lee and the Union Army led by General Grant. A lot of blacks joined the Union Army, which was fighting in line with Lincoln’s aspiration to restore peace in the country and end slavery. The Union Army became numerically superior to the Confederate Army, and General Lee was forced to surrender. He cited that his army was overwhelmed by the large numbers of their opponents. He surrendered on 9 April at Appomattox, signaling an end to a four-year brutal war between the American people [Source]. On 19 June 1865, around 2000+ soldiers arrived at Galveston, Texas, bearing good news that slavery had ended. This happened two years later after Lincoln had launched the ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ on 1 January 1863. The proclamation stated that all persons held as slaves are free, so they should be freed. After the Revolutionary in the US, some slaves were freed, but certain slave masters revolted, and slaves were forced to run away so that they would be free, especially in farms where slaves were vital in undertaking agricultural activities. Thus, Lincoln’s proclamation did not free all slaves at once, but the freedom came gradually as slave-masters began swallowing the bitterness of losing cheap labor, which was a financial and economic loss.
Texas was the first to recognize Juneteenth in 1979 as a historic day for the Americans because it represented the freedom of enslaved African Americans and the post-violence. Others had described this day as the ‘second independence day of the US [Source] because all the people in the nation were now recognized as Americans and given the opportunity to enjoy the nation’s fruits. Schools, universities, companies, corporations, and other institutions have been recognizing this day and organized certain activities specifically designed to remember its significance in their lives.
Initially, the colors associated with Juneteenth were red, blue, and white. These colors were used to show that the slaves were also American, but the black communities are reverting to the Pan-African colors such as green, black, and red. These Pan-African colors symbolize the soil, blood, and prosperity of the African continent and the African people [Source].
The day has been recognized, but not nationally, so the Senate seeks to get a national holiday for 19 June as a historic day. The Senate, as per procedure, will pass on the bill to the House of Representatives, who will vote in support of or against the bill. Comments on various social media platforms have highlighted that as a country that is always advocating for equality and equity-oriented programs across the globe for all races, US politicians and lawmakers should consider making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The bulk of Americans already respects the day as it carries within notable historical events that future generations should know and represents an end to one of most unfortunate experience in the history of humanity, that is slavery. However, the onus lies with the House of Representatives, which holds power to approve the bill.