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House of Representatives Votes 415-14 to Establish Juneteenth as Federal Holiday

HeadlineJun 17, 2021

The House of Representatives has passed a bill enshrining Juneteenth as a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. The celebration marks June 19, the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of the Emancipation Proclamation — signed by Abraham Lincoln more than two years prior — and that the Civil War had ended. Texas Democratic Congressmember Sheila Jackson Lee, who is African American, called the roll.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: “On this vote, the yeas are 415, and the nays are 14. The bill is passed.”

Since the Senate passed the bill this week, the bill now heads to President Biden for his signature. Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus spoke in favor of the federal Juneteenth holiday, including New Jersey Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman: “Juneteenth is a day, for me, of commemoration, not of celebration, because it reminds us of something that was delayed in happening. It also reminds me of what we don’t have today, and that is full access to justice, freedom and equality. All of these are often in short supply as it relates to the Black community, and it is still delayed.”

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