WACO, TX — President Biden is set to sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act this afternoon, making the celebration a federal holiday.
Prior to today it was recognized as a holiday in 47 states, and a paid holiday in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. After today, legislation will make the holiday a paid day off for about two million people employed by the federal government.
However state and local governments, as well as private employers, have the option of deciding whether or not to make the holiday paid time off for their employees.
Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Black Independence Day, is a holiday that originates from 1865 in Galveston, TX.
The holiday is in commemoration of union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Grange, and the message that they brought about the end of the war and enslavement; enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation two years after President Abraham Lincoln had passed the law, according to the official Juneteenth website.
The General Grange read General Order 3 to the state of Texas, which stated:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer," according to the National Archives Catalog.
Today @POTUS will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday. As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.— U.S. Office of Personnel Management (@USOPM) June 17, 2021
Here are some Central Texas locations for Juneteenth events and celebrations that will be taking place this Saturday, June 19:
Austin, TX - Juneteenth Parade and Park Festival
Manor, TX - Juneteenth in Manor
Killeen, TX - Juneteenth Family FunDay
Belton, TX - Juneteenth Lecture with Dr. George Harrison
Temple, TX - Juneteenth Festival
Bastrop, TX - Juneteenth Celebration
Round Rock, TX - Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival