Parades, picnics and history were on hand on Saturday to mark June 16 in the US, a day that became even more significant after Congress and President Joe Biden recognized the annual commemoration of the effective end of slavery. like a federal holiday.
The 19th commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved blacks in Texas two months after the Confederacy surrendered. About two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the southern states, at least on paper.
Biden signed a bill on Thursday creating the 16th National Independence Day.
Since June 19 fell on a Saturday, the government observed the holiday on Friday.
At least nine states had designated June 19th as an official paid state holiday, all but one, Texas, acting after Floyd, a black man, was assassinated last year in Minneapolis.
In Galveston, Texas, the birthplace of the holiday, celebrations included the dedication of a 5,000-square-foot mural titled Absolute Equality.
94-year-old Opal Lee, who was by Biden’s side when he signed the bill, returned to Fort Worth, Texas, to lead a 2.5-mile (2.5-mile) walk symbolizing the two-and-a-half years it took for the slaves in Texas discover that they had been freed.
Sacramento’s black community has hosted June 19th festivals for 20 years, and this year featured a parade, talent show, food fair, Emancipation Proclamation reading, and even a golf tournament.
“This is the first of June that it is being recognized nationally and socially, by the masses and not just within the black community,” said organizer Gary Simon. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of non-black people coming here over the last few years, and I see the difference only in the conversations that take place today.”