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US declares Juneteenth a national holiday to commemorate end of chattel slavery
President Biden has signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Bill making June 19 a federal public holiday to commemorate the symbolic end of chattel slavery in the US.

WASHINGTON, June 18: US President Joe Biden on Thursday signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Bill, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by Congress, making Juneteenth (June + nineteenth) a federal public holiday to commemorate the symbolic end of chattel slavery in the United States. (As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees observed the holiday on Friday.)

“Signing the law was one of the greatest honors I will have had as President,” President Biden said during the signing ceremony at the White House.

"Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation, and the promise of a greater morning to come," Biden said.

He described slavery as a moral stain on the country and said enslavement of Black Americans was the nation's "original sin."

Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is the first woman, Asian-American and the first Black person to serve as vice-president, also addressed the guests and said, "We are gathered in a house built by enslaved people...Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names- Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day. And today, a national holiday”.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and 94-year-old Opal Lee, a decades-old activist were present on the occasion.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by the then President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, legally freeing the slaves. However, the information was withheld from the enslaved people. On June 19, 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army marched into Galveston, Texas, to inform more than 200,000 enslaved Black Americans that they are free. June 19, 1865 thus became a symbolic date of emancipation.

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