As Washington policymakers establish June 19, or Juneteenth, as a new federal holiday, most federal employees will get Friday off, said the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the government agency in charge of such matters.
“As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th,” the agency said in a tweet on Thursday.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. The last enslaved Black people in Texas learned they were free on June 19, 1865 — two months after the Civil War’s end, and two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Read more: What is Juneteenth?
President Joe Biden on Thursday afternoon signed into law a bill that makes Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday, after the measure was approved by the House on Wednesday in a 415-14 vote and by the Senate on Tuesday under a unanimous consent agreement.
“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history, and celebrate the progress, and grapple with the distance we’ve come, but the distance we have to travel, too,” Biden said in a brief speech before the ceremonial signing.
Washington policymakers last established a new federal holiday in 1983, when they backed Martin Luther King Jr. Day.