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On Wednesday, the U.S. House approved a bill to commemorate Juneteenth, or June 19, as the 12th federal holiday in the nation’s history. The last federal holiday created was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
The bill, called the Juneteenth National Independence Act, will formally create Juneteenth National Independence Day, which will be observed on June 19 each year.
The holiday recognizes the day the last African American slaves were notified of their freedom in 1865. President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in 1863 when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but the news did not reach slaves in Texas until two years later at the end of the Civil War.
“Our federal holidays are purposely few in number and recognize the most important milestones,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States.”