The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The legislation has gained momentum since the massive Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year and the Democrats’ takeover of the White House and Congress.
The measure needs to pass the House and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday. In the decades since, every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth, but only a handful of states observe it as a paid holiday.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee are among the members of Congress who led the effort to to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday.