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The holiday observes the end of slavery in the U.S. and marks the day, June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the news to Black Americans in Galveston, Texas—which was two years after President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
"By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history, and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we've come [and] the distance we have to travel," the president said on Thursday, June 17 during the signing ceremony at the White House.
"The truth is," he continued, "it's simply not enough just to commemorate Juneteenth. After all, the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans didn't mark the end of America's work to deliver on the promise of equality. It only marked the beginning. To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that progress because we've not gotten there yet."
While there is much work to, just as President Joe Biden noted, many are celebrating the national holiday on social media. See how stars and public figures are marking Juneteenth below.
Emmanuel Acho: "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."
Hillary Clinton: "Happy #Juneteenth... 'If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.—James Baldwin.'"
Holly Robinson Peete: "Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, abolishing slavery declaring all slaves in the Confederate states to be free. Yet on June 19th, 1865 the news finally reached made [sic] it to Galveston, Texas. I've celebrated #Juneteenth my whole life. For my ancestors @NAACP."
Janelle Monáe: "Reclaiming joy. Centering joy on purpose. We deserve every ounce. Happy Juneteenth & Happy birthday mama!"
President Joe Biden: "Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation – and the promise of that brighter morning to come. It's a day of profound weight and power. Today and every day, we must work to ensure our nation finally lives up to its promise of equality for all."
Kaitlyn Bristowe: "What. A. Year. Today is my 36th birthday. Birthdays always make me reflect on the past year — where I'm at, what I've done, what I haven't done. I sort of used to dread that part of my birthday, but now I think it's my favorite. Not because I think I have it all figured out now, but because now I'm OK with the fact that I don't. They say that the more you know, the more you realize you don't know. I used to be self conscious to not know the right thing to say or have all the knowledge I knew I "should" have. I thought I was being "kind" by not butting in where I didn't think I had a place, but in reality it was keeping me from recognizing what was going on in the world around me. I'm definitely proud of myself for realizing some personal goals in this past year, but I think what's way more important is realizing the privileges I've had in my life that have allowed me to get to where I am today. Of course I've worked hard, but the inequities in our society have benefited me over others. And that, of course, is BS. June 19th is not my day. Yes, I will celebrate my birthday and my accomplishments this past year, but today is a day to commemorate the end of slavery. I'm committed to continue to learn and to continue for a just future for every single person. I have started a GoFundMe campaign that will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (@aclu_nationwide). They continue to do incredible and imperative work in our communities and fight for equality for all. I'll leave the link in my bio if you'd like to be a part of this with me."
Vice President Kamala Harris: "Today is a day of celebration and pride. We reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to ensuring freedom and justice for all. Happy Juneteenth!"
Kerry Washington: "156 years later and #Juneteenth is becoming a Federal Holiday."
Lupita Nyong'o: "Here's to celebrating #Juneteenth with the swag and soul of Ms. Opal Lee. We owe deep respect to her unwavering commitment that is responsible for the Senate passing a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Join me in thanking @Opalsw2dc for her inspiring accomplishment. Before I go: this national acknowledgment is imperative; however the real substantial change that must follow is ensuring education is introduced and safeguarded in schools on the significance of Juneteenth and Black people's experiences in and contributions to American society. The oversight of these historical events blinds & misleads both our present and future generations. It encourages willful ignorance & the touting of revisionist history. The mission Ms. Opal Lee started is not yet accomplished, but rather a responsibility for us to carry forward."
Michelle Obama: "Let's celebrate #Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday by recognizing the generations of enslaved Black people who fought so hard for their freedom. One of the best ways to do that is by fortifying our sacred right 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. It's up to each of us to work to protect our democracy and expand our voting rights. There's too much on the line. Take action with @WhenWeAllVote this weekend. Call your senators and tell them to support the #ForThePeopleAct."
Porsha Williams: "People think the emancipation proclamation freed the slaves but it was the resilience, fight and fortitude almost 3 years later of BLACK PEOPLE 156 years ago on June 19th that did it. Together we can. Lets continue to fight, uplift and birth the new nation."
Sarah Hyland: "I was not educated on the subject of Juneteenth in school. I learned as an adult. I continue to educate myself on matters surrounding the systemic racism of our country, and I hope for a day where all children are taught the true history of our past."
Tiffany Haddish: "Happy Juneteenth EveryBody I hope you are having fun in the sun Celebrating Freedom."
Tina Lawson: "Juneteenth or 19 of June was a Holiday for my family long ago! They started celebrating Juneteenth before I was even born. This short celebrates my deep Texas Roots. I am so happy to be a part of Facebook's plan to spread the word and to acknowledge this important Day, that the enslaved people in the South were freed. I encourage you to research and understand this important part of History !! Thanks @facebook and special thanks to @barbsmilez. #junteenth At end that's my grandparents, Mom and My children's dad And his amazing family."