First modification: 06/18/2021 – 02:36
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed a bill Thursday to make June 19 a federal holiday, commemorating the end of slavery for African Americans, officially enacted through an amendment in the Constitution in 1865.
After an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives and a unanimous vote in the Senate, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, enacted June 19, known as “juneteenth”, as a holiday in the country to remember the end of slavery.
The date marks the day in 1865 that the last African-American slaves knew they were free, when a general in Texas informed them that two years earlier President Abraham Lincoln had ordered it by proclamation of emancipation during the Civil War.
Juneteenth is officially a federal holiday.
– President Biden (@POTUS) June 17, 2021
“June 19 marks both a long and hard night of subjugation of slavery and the promise of a brighter morning (…) The great nations do not ignore their most painful moments, they embrace them,” said Biden with the first African-American vice president. of the country’s history, Kamala Harris, and before a room with about 80 members of Congress, local elected officials, community leaders and activists like Opal Lee, who campaigned to declare the holiday.
In addition, the US president acknowledged that the day is a reminder of the “terrible price that slavery had in the country and that it continues to cause.”
The day thus becomes the eleventh federal holiday, adding to a list that includes Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving and Independence Day, as well as days in honor of presidents and the leader of civil rights. assassinated Martin Luther King Jr, among others.
Federal employees will begin taking the holiday this year, starting on Friday the 18th, as the 19th falls on Saturday, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management explained.
“It’s great, but it’s not enough”
Despite the great support for the decision, some view its usefulness with skepticism, as they indicate that the declaration of the holiday will be a “failure” if the date is simply recognized without promoting actions on issues such as police brutality, minority voting rights and the racial divide, noted Matthew Delmont, a history professor at Dartmouth College and a specialist in African-American history and civil rights.
For the president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City, Gwen Grant, the decision “is great, but it is not enough.” He agreed that it is necessary for “Congress to protect voting rights, and that must happen right now so that we do not go back further.”
The initiative becomes law a year after the United States was rocked by protests against racism and racially-tinged police violence, following the murder of African-American George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
President Joe Biden and Democrats are under pressure to respond to a series of Republican-backed state bills that civil rights activists say are aimed at suppressing minority voting. In addition to significantly addressing the disproportionate killing of black men by the authorities.
Of the 50 states in the country, 48 already recognized the holiday, but the wave of anti-racism protests prompted the union of some Democratic and Republican legislators to convert the commemoration of the date into federal law.
With Reuters and EFE