Local leaders react to Juneteenth becoming newest federal holiday

Local News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The country will now celebrate Juneteenth as the twelfth federal holiday, after a bill recognizing the day was signed Thursday by President Joe Biden; the legislation will take effect this Saturday.

June 19, or Juneteenth, is a celebratory day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

“It was the African American Independence Day. That is what Juneteenth stands for,” Daniel Shouse, co-organizer of Terre Haute Day, said. “It’s the freedom of us as a whole. We want to give understanding about that because there is a people that is unaware of this. They may be unaware of the declaration.”

Over the last year Shouse and Theo Morgan have been working to host Terre Haute Day, which will take place on Saturday, in honor of Juneteenth.

After the bill officially recognizing the holiday passed through Congress, many in Terre Haute, including Terre Haute NAACP president Sylvester Edwards, said they were overwhelmed with excitement.

“I was on the cusp of being as happy as the enslaved people in Galveston, Tex., 1865 of June,” Edwards said. “I was really happy about it.”

Edwards believes Juneteenth is important to more than just one demographic.

“Juneteenth is not only African American history,” he said. “It’s American history and everyday is American history but we are part of that and it should be not uniquely for African American. It should be for America.”

Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King Day was established in 1983.

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