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Brick Underground's virtual office is closed in recognition of the first federal Juneteenth holiday in American history, which is being observed today (the real Juneteenth is of course Saturday, June 19th) and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
At the legislation signing, President Joe Biden noted this is the first new national holiday since Martin Luther King Day was established in 1983. The effort to commemorate Juneteenth as a federal holiday picked up steam last summer during the protests over the murder of George Floyd by police, The New York Times reports.
The Times cites Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas and a lead sponsor of the legislation, who said in an interview with MSNBC that creating this federal holiday acknowledges “the original sin of this nation.”
Want to know more about the origins of Juneteenth, which was kicked off by an 1865 military order informing the people of Texas that all slaves were free? As Henry Louis Gates Jr. writes on pbs.org, that order, issued by Major General Gordon Grander, came a full two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“[A]s Granger and the 1,800 bluecoats under him soon found out, news traveled slowly in Texas,” Gates writes.
There are events being held Saturday around the city to commemorate Juneteenth, including concerts, speakers, and art exhibits. The multitalented Stacey Abrams will be honored for her service as a voting rights activist when she receives the inaugural Harry Belafonte Voices for Social Justice Award as part of the Tribeca Festival Juneteenth program.
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