Juneteenth made federal holiday by President Biden

June 18, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday (June 17) signed into law an act designating June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday – the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.  

Juneteenth National Independence Day, generally referred to as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day, is a holiday commemorating when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, ultimately learned they were free on June 19, 1865, two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  

“This is a symbolic moment in time for our Black communities at Penn State and beyond,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “I am pleased to see the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act become law because I believe it may enable more Americans to learn about Black history and culture, and to understand the continuing need to address injustice and inequality. I urge our students, faculty and staff to think deeply about the significance of Juneteenth and how we all can work to generate change, fight bias and be more inclusive every day.”  

As communicated in a community message earlier this week, Juneteenth not only acknowledges the end of American slavery, but also celebrates the advancements of the Black community and serves as both a reminder and an opportunity for greater recognition of and education on issues of race, Black culture and Black history. 

The Penn State community is encouraged to learn more about the newly designated federal holiday via various University resources, such as the University Libraries scholarly articles, books, films and more. Information on Juneteenth events across the University is available on Penn State News

Last Updated June 18, 2021