*The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the date in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom, a national holiday.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to easily pass then on to President Joe Biden for signature into law.
“Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as reported by Yahoo. “But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.”
“While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis, who previously objected to the bill.
“It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union.” Cornyn and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, first introduced the bill last spring.
“Many Black Americans feel as though this is the first time in a long time that they have been heard in a way across the culture,” Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke University African American studies professor, told the New York Times last June. “It’s an opportunity for folks to kind of catch their breath about what has been this incredible pace of change and shifting that we’ve seen.”
Juneteenth “brings balance to American holiday celebrations,” Steve Williams, the president of the National Juneteenth Observation Foundation, told Newsweek. “We were not free on the Fourth of July.”
“Juneteenth commemorates the moment some of the last formerly enslaved people in the nation learned that they were free,” Schumer said in a statement. He also celebrated the bill’s passing on Twitter.
“I just put a bill on the floor of the Senate from @SenMarkey and @SenTinaSmith to make #Juneteenth a federal holiday. It passed the Senate!” Schumer wrote. “Next up: It should pass the House. Then to President Biden’s desk for signature.”