Ohio will celebrate Juneteenth — a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States — as a state and federal holiday for the first time this week.
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill confirming the nation would recognize June 19 as a federal holiday — the first new one since Martin Luther King Jr. Day joined the lineup in 1983. The legislation had been passed in the Senate Tuesday and won the overwhelming approval of the House on Wednesday.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine released a statement a few hours later saying that Ohio would also recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. The state constitution automatically adds any new federal holidays to Ohio’s calendar.
And because June 19, 2021, falls on a Saturday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday night that most state offices and state employees would have the day off Friday instead.
Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day and Jubilee Day, celebrates Black Americans’ freedom and culture.
It doesn’t mark the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which happened Jan. 1, 1863. Although the proclamation's legal effect was to end slavery, news traveled slowly in the 19th century and Lincoln's orders had little effect on the lives of Black people in the Confederacy. Freedom wouldn't reach all enslaved Black people for more than two years afterward.
The Civil War formally ended April 9, 1865.
On June 19, 1865, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas.
The order let enslaved Black people in Texas — sometimes described as the last enslaved people in the country — know the war was over and that they were free.