Juneteenth celebrates the date that the last enslaved people were freed in the United States, finally ending one of the original sins of our democracy. On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and shared news of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after the proclamation was signed.
Last summer, amidst months of grief and powerful action, our entire nation was provided with the opportunity to re-examine our history. That reflection, coupled with the recent 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, has made it clear that our country must do more to acknowledge the legacy of Black Americans. Celebrating Juneteenth as a shared national holiday is just one of the many steps we can take in honor of that legacy.
In recognition of the need to make our federal calendar more inclusive and in light of recent action taken by the state of Illinois to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday, I proudly voted this week to make Juneteenth a federal national holiday. From now on, my office and I will observe Juneteenth by closing our Washington, D.C., and Chicago offices and spending the day in reflection and celebration.
Juneteenth has been commemorated by Black Americans for over 150 years and it is long past time that we all honor this piece of Black and American history. I hope you will join me by learning more about the history of Juneteenth and, of course, by celebrating.