Senate passes bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday, some ENC communities already give employees off

Senate passes bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 7:05 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Senate passed a bill that could officially recognize Juneteenth, a day to remember the emancipation of slaves in the United States, as a federal holiday.

The bill, that’s also expected to pass in the House, is a move that could grant millions of federal workers a day off.

Until now, it’s been up to states to decide whether to officially recognize the holiday.

North Carolina recognizes Juneteenth but leaves it up to cities and counties to make it paid or not. Some, like Kinston, have already proclaimed it a paid holiday.

“It means more,” said Don Hardy, the Mayor of Kinston. “It means more to our employees and lets folks know that we’re taking it serious and that we want to always remember that day.”

Though slavery was abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Juneteenth marks the day two years later that slaves in Texas learned they were free.

“We universally agree on independence on the 4th of July. Over time, we came to agree on the importance of labor on Labor Day, the importance of recognizing the military on Memorial Day, and Veterans Day,” explained ECU history professor Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz.

“Now, we’re saying it’s important as a society to recognize the end of slavery as a momentous step forward.”

This is the first time the United States is set to add another federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

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