Live stream: Biden signs bill making Juneteenth 12th official US holiday

Watch live at 3:30 p.m. Thursday

The Juneteenth historic marker is located on Strand Street in Galveston. The marker commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to inform enslaved black Texans that slavery had ended, two and a half years after President Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation. June 15, 2020.

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will sign legislation into law on Thursday that officially makes Juneteenth a federal holiday -- the first new national holiday since 1983.

Watch live at 3:30 p.m. in the video player below.

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.

List: Juneteenth events in Metro Detroit

“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.”

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Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.