US President Joe Biden has signed a new bill that will commemorate the end of slavery with a public holiday.
The federal holiday will be celebrated on the 19th of June or Juneteenth with Biden stating that it will go down as one of the greatest honours he has as president while stating, “This is a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take,”.
The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday with the House of Representatives voting 415-14 on Wednesday to send the bill to Biden, who noted the overwhelming support for the bill from members of Congress in both parties.
This is the 12th federal holiday to be established in the US with the last one being created in 1983 to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.
Biden, who promises to unite the country and work with Republicans, stated that he hopes that this is the beginning of a change in the way we deal with one another.
The legislation was signed by Biden while surrounded by members of the Constitutional Black Caucus as well as the lead sponsors of the legislation in the Senate, senators Edward Markey and John Cornyn.
President and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City Gwen Grant stated that she was delighted by the quick vote but added that it’s not enough.
While stating that the national holiday has been “a long time coming”, Grant said, “we need Congress to protect voting rights, and that needs to happen right now so we don’t regress any further. That is the most important thing Congress can be addressing at this time.”