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Juneteenth celebrations emphasize ending racial disparities

Juneteenth Georgia
Posted at 12:49 PM, Jun 19, 2022

DALLAS (AP) — A year after Juneteenth became a federal holiday, Americans across the country gathered this weekend at events filled with music, food, and fireworks.

Celebrations also emphasized learning about the past and addressing racial disparities.

President Joe Biden signed legislation last year, making June 19 the nation's 12th federal holiday.

The last federal holiday approved in the U.S. was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

June 19, 1865, was the day that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to order freedom for the enslaved Black people in the state.

It was two months after the Confederacy had surrendered in the Civil War and more than 2 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was led by 95-year-old Opal Lee.

Known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Lee has pushed for Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal holiday for decades, and she achieved her goal last year, USA Today reported.

Cities around the country celebrated Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, this weekend, including Phoenix, Denver, and Houston.

Although Monday will be a federal holiday because Juneteenth fell on a Sunday this year, roughly 18 states recognize it as a paid state holiday, Axios and the New York Times reported.