June 19, also known as Juneteenth, will now be a public holiday in the United States. On this day, Americans commemorate the abolition of slavery. President Joe Biden signed the bill Thursday that made the proposal official.
The House of Representatives had already approved the bill on Wednesday by 415 votes to 14 against. Those 14 votes came from Republican lawmakers.
On Thursday, Biden also gave his consent, making Juneteenth the 11th national holiday in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates the liberation of the last slaves in the United States on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas. Today it has been recognized in that state since 1980. This has already been the case in some other countries. The call to make it a national holiday came in the wake of ongoing Black Lives Matter protests against racism and excessive police brutality.
Biden said signing the bill would be one of the most honorable moments of his presidency. It’s also the first new American holiday since 1983, when January 17th was christened Martin Luther King Day. By making Juneteenth a public holiday, Biden said, “all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history.”
The new law takes effect immediately, which means that next Saturday will already be the first official Juneteenth.