Jun 20, 2022 1 min read

How Juneteenth Became a Federal Holiday

More than 60 percent of Americans still know nothing or only a little bit about the holiday.
How Juneteenth Became a Federal Holiday

Juneteenth is a federal holiday officially recognized by nearly half the states. But not many know much about it.

Juneteenth commemorates the non-official end of slavery when enslaved Black Americans in Texas were informed of their freedom two months after the end of the civil war and two years after the emancipation proclamation. It’s been sparsely celebrated since then.

Trump said nobody had ever heard of Juneteenth before he made it “very famous.” The former president famously rescheduled a 2020 rally to ensure it didn’t fall on Juneteenth. Despite his exaggeration, he had a point; more than 60 percent of Americans still know nothing or only a little bit about the holiday a year after his statements.

Mainstreaming the holiday has been a part of America’s social justice movement. It’s hard to miss the holiday now, even though most Americans hadn’t even heard of it just two years ago. Wall Street and the US financial markets are officially closed for it, corporations like Google and 800 others make their support of it known, and Biden signed it into federal law.

Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a victory for the progressive movement that seeks to consolidate systemic racism, social justice, and slavery as the foundational history in America.

Additionally, its proximity to the Fourth of July has led activists and outlets like CNN to call Juneteenth "America's true birthday." Many also call on celebrating the new holiday instead of America's independence day.

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