US senators to introduce bill making Juneteenth federal holiday

Four US Democratic senators announced that they will introduce legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

The bill, Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, will be introduced by Senators Kamala Harris of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

Juneteenth, observed on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which announced that, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free”.

“On Juneteenth, we remember the millions who suffered, died, and survived the crushing reality of slavery in America,” Harris said in a statement. “Without question, it should be recognized with the respect of a federal holiday.”

Currently, Juneteenth is recognized by 46 states and Washington, D.C. as an official state holiday or observance.

This year’s Juneteenth comes amid nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racism triggered by the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, late last month after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

More than 20 rallies, marches and events were scheduled for Friday in Washington, D.C., with hundreds more in over 40 states, according to the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of US groups representing the interests of black communities.