On June 15, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make June 19, more commonly known as Juneteenth, a national holiday. Many states already observe this holiday by celebrating, and some even have it as a paid holiday.
Juneteenth is considered the country’s second independence day. It came after the Emancipation Proclamation, which illegalized slavery. However, the Emancipation proclamation could not be implemented in Confederate States, so those enslaved could not be freed. On June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas. According to the Smithsonian, the army declared the enslaved people of the state free, marking the date as “our country’s second independence day.”
Some argue that making Juneteenth a national paid holiday would be an unnecessary expense to taxpayers. Others say it is a vital step to acknowledge the country’s history and right injustices.
“Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in an article with the Associated Press. “But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.”