Workforce

Feds to get Juneteenth off as a federal holiday, starting Friday

Juneteeth Celebration in Grant Park, Chicago on June 19, 2020. Editorial credit: Antwon McMullen / Shutterstock.com

Juneteeth Celebration in Grant Park, Chicago on June 19, 2020 (Image credit: Antwon McMullen / Shutterstock)

Most feds will get Friday, June 18, off from work to celebrate the newest federal holiday, Juneteenth.

Congress passed bills ordering the new holiday this week, which commemorates the day the news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.

The Senate approved Juneteenth legislation via unanimous consent, and the House passed the bill by a 415-14 vote, with all the 'no' votes coming from Republicans.

President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law on Thursday.

"When we establish a national holiday, it makes an important statement," Vice President Kamala Harris said at the White House signing ceremony. "National holidays are something important. These are days when we as a nation have decided to stop and take stock, and often to acknowledge our history.... So as we commemorate the history of Juneteenth as we did just weeks ago with the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we must learn from our history, and we must teach our children our history because it is part of our history as a nation. It is part of American history."

The Office of Personnel Management said in a tweet that this means "most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18," since June 19 falls on Saturday.

"Black history is American history, and I am proud that Congress is following the lead of the Congressional Black Caucus in reaffirming that sacred principle," Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement. "Because we can't change the future if we can't acknowledge the past."

This article was updated June 17 with additional information

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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