WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has signed legislation Thursday establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, saying he believes it will go down as one of the greatest honors he has as president.
Biden signed into law a bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th federal holiday.
The U.S. government announced Thursday that most federal government employees will observe the new holiday Friday because June 19 falls on Saturday this year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement on the new legislation:
“I commend the bipartisan work of the United States Congress and President Biden in recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. This important day – which we declared an official holiday in New York State last year – reminds us of the injustices our Black communities continue to face, while also serving as an opportunity to celebrate those who fought tirelessly for abolition throughout our history. May we all be inspired by those heroes who fought and scarified, so we can continue to make change in favor of a more fair and equal society.”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered.
By KEVIN FREKING