Senate passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

“This is huge,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) tweeted after the vote. “I look forward to passing this bill in the House and making #Juneteenth a federal holiday.”

Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19 and already recognized as a holiday in 45 states, commemorates the end of slavery in Confederate states. While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves on Jan. 1, 1863, it took another two and a half years before some 250,000 slaves in Texas learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865.

Slavery in the U.S. was formally outlawed when the 13th Amendment was ratified in December 1865.