Today, President Biden will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act commemorating Juneteenth as a federal holiday. As June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, federal employees will observe this holiday tomorrow, June 18, 2021.
Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” and “Emancipation Day,” is a significant day in our history. On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, federal troops rode into Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved people that they were indeed free. Juneteenth is a time to celebrate the end of slavery, to reflect on the shameful and enduring legacy of racism in our country, and to commit to doing better.
We must remain relentless in our pursuit of both equality and equity. Slavery was a stain on this Nation that left a legacy of systemic racism, oppression, and the marginalization of the African American community.
While Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is a momentous step for our Nation, we still have more work to do. The impacts of slavery are still experienced across our country today, including through disparate access to healthcare, quality education, and economic opportunity.
Our Department’s mission is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. To truly embody and execute this critical mission, we must protect the civil and human rights of all Americans. This year, the Biden-Harris Administration has begun the process of building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive federal government. At DHS, we work to ensure our policies are informed by the communities we serve every day. We also remain committed to ensuring our Department looks like America, including by investing in the development of diverse talent pipelines and ensuring equitable access to professional advancement opportunities. We recognize that we still have much more work to do and we will continue to strive to build a more equitable, just, and inclusive future.
We all have a role to play in building a better America today and for future generations. Please join me in committing to advancing racial justice and racial equity across our Nation, not only on Juneteenth, but every day of the year.
Thank you for everything you do in service to our Department and our country.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security
With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.