Kamala Harris, Taylor Swift, and Others Call for Juneteenth to Be Recognized as a National Holiday

Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned that they were free. This day came two and a half years after they were supposedly liberated by the Emancipation Proclamation. Arguably the United States' true Independence Day, many are calling for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday.

In fact, Senator Kamala Harris just introduced a bill to Congress to officially make that happen, telling MSNBC that she collaborated with Senators Tina Smith, Ed Markey and Cory Booker.

“Juneteenth is a day to remember the millions who died from enslavement in America, and those who survived and fought to end it,” Sen. Harris tweeted on June 18. “And it needs to be a national holiday. We’re introducing a bill to do just that.”

“We just introduced legislation to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday,” she followed up on Friday, June 19. “Without question, it should be recognized with the respect of a federal holiday.”

Many have fought for national recognition of the holiday for years, with 47 states observing the holiday in some form. However, the cause has gained momentum this year following worldwide Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black victims of police brutality and white supremacy. As of this week, New York, Virginia, Oregon, and Philadelphia have also dubbed Juneteenth an official holiday.

Activists, celebrities, and citizens across the country have been speaking out as well. Taylor Swift announced on Instagram that her entire staff was given the day off in a video post explaining the meaning behind the holiday. 

"Personally, I’ve made the decision to give all of my employees June 19th off in honor of Freedom Day from now on, and to continue to educate myself on the history that brought us to this present moment," she wrote in the caption of a video by The Root. "For my family, everything that has transpired recently gives us an opportunity to reflect, listen, and reprogram any part of our lives that hasn’t been loudly and ferociously anti-racist, and to never let privilege lie dormant when it could be used to stand up for what’s right."

Here's what Lupita Nyong'o, Nikole Hannah Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others had to say on Twitter.

To learn more about the history and significance of Juneteenth, click here. 

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