Until Biden signed the bill into law earlier this week, Juneteenth was not fully acknowledged as a federal holiday, and was not widely talked about.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that makes Juneteenth a national holiday. For this year’s celebration, celebrities and public figures took to social media to commemorate the monumental event.
June 19th, or Juneteenth, marks the day slavery officially ended in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, following the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln.
Until Biden signed the bill, the holiday was only celebrated by the African American community and was not fully acknowledged as a federal holiday.
Oscar award-winning actress Halle Berry posted a tweet celebrating the holiday yesterday, and urged her followers to share their Black-owned businesses to give them the spotlight for the day:
Happy #Juneteenth everyone! We’ve come so far — but we know we still have a long way to go. Please drop your Black-owned business under this thread. Would love to highlight a few today. 👏🏽
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) June 19, 2021
Oprah Winfrey shared a video that highlighted an initiative called Lift Every Voice, a collection of impactful interviews with prominent Black figures conducted by Black journalists and photographers:
Their experiences and wisdom can lead us to a better future if we’re open to receive it. What makes their stories even more poignant, is that young Black journalists and photographers captured their words and images in a spectrum of Black excellence.
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) June 19, 2021
Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared a tweet that commemorates Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday, and provided a link for people to register to vote:
Right now, we have the opportunity to enact voting reforms, expand voting rights, and stop dozens of voter suppression bills aimed at limiting access to the ballot box for people across the country by passing the #ForThePeopleAct.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 19, 2021
Vice President Kamala Harris posted a video of herself speaking at the White House before the bill was signed into law, emphasizing the importance of the holiday.
“Today is a day of celebration and pride,” she wrote in the caption of the Instagram video. “We reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to ensuring freedom and justice for all. Happy Juneteenth!”
Football linebacker Emmanuel Acho wrote a tweet that read, “True independence cannot exist, if it does not exist for all. Without Juneteenth, the day the last of the slaves realized their freedom, our celebration of Independence Day on July 4th, lacks substance and *truth*. Happy Juneteenth my friends.”
Black Panther actress Lupita Nyong’o shared a picture on Instagram of the social activist Opal Lee, who is often referred to as the Grandmother of Juneteenth.
“We owe deep respect to Ms. Opal Lee whose unwavering commitment is surely responsible for the Senate (finally!) passing a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday this week,” Nyong’o wrote in the caption. “I hope you’ll join me in thanking @TheRealOpalLee for her inspiring accomplishment, let alone at 94 years of age!”
To celebrate the holiday, ABC aired a televised special called Juneteenth: Together We Triumph – A Soul of a Nation Special Event on Friday night. The event featured Michael Strahan interviewing the former president of the United States Barack Obama and special performances by Chloe Bailey, Jimmie Allen, and Leon Bridges.
The special event is available to stream on Hulu.
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About The Author
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Karelle McKay is a recent graduate of Brooklyn College’s Journalism and Media Studies program. She is a multimedia journalist who aspires to produce engaging content for a news organization in the New York City area. She is currently an entertainment writer for TheThings.com where she contributes the latest news in pop culture.
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