President Biden on Thursday signed into law the bill that will officially make Juneteenth a federal holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
“Great nations don’t ignore the most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them,” Biden said during remarks in the East Room.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the nation’s first Black vice president, also signed the legislation in her capacity as Senate president.
“So as we commemorate the history of Juneteenth, as we did just weeks ago with the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we must learn from our history and we must teach our children our history because it is part of our history as a nation,” Harris said. “It is part of American history.”
The President signed the Juneteenth bill into law following unanimous passage in the Senate and a 415-14 vote in the House — all 14 who opposed the measure were Republicans.
Celebrated on June 19, Juneteenth marks the anniversary of Major General Gordon Granger’s 1865 announcement in Galveston, Texas of the end of slavery in the U.S. in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
Forty-eight states had already recognized Juneteenth as a state or ceremonial holiday prior to its passage as a federal holiday in Congress.