If you’re calling the federal courts today (Friday), odds are you may not get someone. Yesterday, President Biden signed a bill making it law that Juneteenth (which is a Saturday) is now a federal holiday. The day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States when Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3 which read and declared that “all slaves are free”.
As Vice President Harris said: “Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names: Jubilee Day. Freedom Day. Liberation Day. Emancipation Day. And today, a national holiday.”
Of course, this does not mean that today is automatically a holiday in most private workplaces. Most workplaces set those dates ahead of time and they are separate and apart from whatever the federal government does.
But it’s likely that we will see new momentum to make this a further day off in the future. Back in 2008 (!), I talked about how MLK Jr. Day was gaining acceptance by private employers — some of whom started giving employees the day off (rather than designating it a floating holiday). It’ll take a little while but we’ll probably see some adoption of it in the upcoming years.
Regardless, it will be up to employers to decide whether to adopt the day as a new holiday or just commemorate the day.
As one of my colleagues said yesterday, “No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday, we hope that every member of the community will honor Juneteenth by rededicating themselves to its ideals of freedom and equality.”
If you’d like to learn more about it, The Texas State Historical Association has some materials available here.