President Biden issued a proclamation Friday to mark the new Juneteenth national holiday, calling the celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. “a day that should be recognized by all Americans.”
“Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power,” the president said in the proclamation. “A day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country — what I’ve long called America’s original sin. A long legacy of systemic racism, inequality, and inhumanity.”
He said the holiday “not only commemorates the past. It calls us to action today.” Mr. Bidencited the impact of the pandemic, in particular.
“We must recognize that Black Americans, among other people of color, have shouldered a disproportionate burden of loss — while also carrying us through disproportionately as essential workers and health care providers on the front lines of the crisis,” he said.
The president signed a measure into law Thursday creating the national holiday on June 19 — the date in 1865 when some of the last enslaved people, in Galveston, Texas, learned they had been freed. Because the date falls on a Saturday this year, many federal employees are receiving a day off on Friday instead.
The president said the holiday “is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve.”