President Joe Biden yesterday signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act , making it the eleventh federal holiday. The law had been passed unanimously by the Senate and almost unanimously by the House of Representatives.
The holiday celebrates the date - June 19, 1865 - on which slaves in Galveston, Texas, first were informed of the Emancipation Proclamation that had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln two and a half years earlier, completing - at least legally - the freeing of slaves in the US. While Juneteenth has been observed by the African-American community in the US for decades, the racial strife of the past several years created momentum for it to be made a national holiday.
USA Today reports this morning that "more than 460 companies are observing Juneteenth at this point, with many offering a paid day off or holiday pay, according to HellaCreative, an initiative launched by Black creatives in San Francisco to make Juneteenth an official holiday."
Some of the companies observing the holiday - some of them started doing so years ago - include Target, Starbucks, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Nike.
However, while today is technically a federal holiday - because June 19 is a Saturday this year - the US Postal Service will be delivering the mail.
"The U.S. Postal Service is fully supportive of the new Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and making June 19 a federal holiday. Unfortunately, it is not possible to cease the operations of the Postal Service to accommodate an observance over the next 24-48 hours," the USPS said in a statement.
- KC's View:
I have to say that this year has been a real education when it comes to things like Juneteenth and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre - things I was never taught in school, and knowledge of which gives me greater understanding of what some of this nation's citizens have endured. Though, of course, I can never really understand it … which is part of the problem that endures.
I've started reading a fascinating book, "On Juneteenth," by Annette Gordon-Reed, in an attempt to educate myself.