The Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Juneteenth, already celebrated in the majority of states on June 19, commemorates the official end of slavery in Confederate states on that day in 1865. Though President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, hundreds of thousands of slaves did not learn of their freedom until after the end of the Civil War.
Both Target and Best Buy have announced plans to make Juneteenth a company-wide holiday, an idea that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) wants to institute on the federal level.
“One of the most defining days in our nation’s history was when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, finally freeing all slaves in Confederate territory. But slaves in Texas wouldn’t learn this life-altering news for two and a half years,” Cornyn said during a Senate floor speech Thursday.