President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on Thursday (June 17), officially making June 19th a federal holiday.
46 signed the bill, which gives national recognition to the day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris hours after the Senate cleared the bill without debate and two days after the House voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth a national federal holiday.
"Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names, and today, a national holiday," Harris said during a signing ceremony at the White House on Thursday, per CNN.
Biden also spoke of the importance of giving national recognition to Juneteenth, saying, "Juneteenth marks both a long, hard night of slavery and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound wait and profound power. A day which you'll remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take."
He continued, "Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments. They don't ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them. Great nations don't walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger," Biden said during remarks at the White House.
Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Black Independence Day — is the first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War had ended and enslaved Black Americans were free. The announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.