- President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law Thursday, making June 19 a federally recognized holiday. "Juneteenth marks both a long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come," the president stated at the signing.
- Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the bill establishing the holiday Feb. 25. Action sped up this week in anticipation of Juneteenth; it passed through the Senate by unanimous consent June 15 and the House by a wide margin June 16.
- Federal employees will observe the holiday Friday, June 18, according to a tweet from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
One consequence of last year's racial reckoning following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd was a greater spotlight on reassessing and appreciating the gravity of moments in Black history. There was a major spike in interest in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre this year, for example, following conversations and an annual retrospective that pulled the event back into the public consciousness.
Juneteenth, an event commemorating the freeing of the final enslaved African Americans, also gained more attention. While the holiday has long been celebrated by many within Black communities, it received much more widespread attention and support in 2020, with many calling for Juneteenth to be federally recognized.
Many companies — including Allstate, Lyft, Twitter and Nike — were ahead of the federal government, declaring Juneteenth a paid day off beginning in 2020.
For organizations that can't offer Juneteenth as a companywide paid day off, experts have recommended making the day a flexible holiday, and engage employees by sharing resources and beginning conversations.