Ahead of Saturday Celebrations, Rep. Veasey Joins Colleagues to Make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

Jun 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of the Juneteenth 2021 holiday, Rep. Veasey joined his colleagues today to pass S. 475, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act – legislation that establishes Juneteenth as a federal holiday. “Juneteenth,” observed on June 19, marks the anniversary of when federal officials arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War and slavery in the United States of America had ended. 

“From its Texas origins, the observance of Juneteenth as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the country as a symbol of freedom and an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation,” said Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33). “Today, I am proud to join my colleagues to finally establish this important day as a federal holiday. This important milestone would not be possible without the work of Fort Worth civil rights legend, Opal Lee, who has spent over 40 years marching across the nation to bring attention and awareness to the need for a national day of observance for Juneteenth. Now, we must build on this important step forward – and Ms. Lee’s work – by recommitting ourselves to the ongoing work of guaranteeing liberty and equal rights for all Americans."

June 19, 1865, was the day when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned the Civil War was over and they were free. The news came more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. In 1980, Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday. The holiday is currently recognized by 47 states and the District of Columbia as an official state holiday or observance. Rep. Veasey was an original co-sponsor of this legislation during the 116th and 117th Congress.