The United States on Thursday designated Juneteenth as a federal holiday, in commemoration of the end of slavery in the country.
The President, Joe Biden, made June 19 the 12th federal holiday in the country, after the House of Representatives passed it in a 415-14 vote on Wednesday.
In this piece, we highlights five things you should know about the Juneteenth holiday:
1. Juneteenth is a combination of two words – June and nineteen, the date that marked the end of over 200 years of slavery in the country.
2. Juneteenth National Independence Day is held on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans learned that they were free.
3.The day is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, following ex-president Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 that was later enforced nearly three years later, during the end of the American civil war.
4. Juneteenth has been celebrated in the United States for over 150 years, making it one of the oldest holidays in the country before Biden recently made it a federal holiday.
5.Texas was the first state to observe Juneteenth as an official holiday in 1980. It took over forty years before other states joined in the celebration. As one of the confederate states, Texas fought against the Union in the Civil War. It was the last state to surrender to the Union Army and where African-Americans slaves learned of their freedom.
6. Juneteenth last year came against a backdrop of protests fueled by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The officer has since been convicted of murder.
7.The death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the concession of President Biden led to the legal approval of Juneteenth as a federal holiday.