Sam Collins III, left, and others celebrate at the Juneteenth historical marker on June 17, 2021, in Galveston, Texas, after President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Communities all over the country will be marking Juneteenth, the day that enslaved Black Americans learned they were free. Yet, the U.S. government was slow to embrace the holiday.
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The official recognition of the day the last enslaved people in the United States learned of their freedom, known as Juneteenth, was a long time coming. It wasn’t until 2021 — nearly 160 years after slavery ended — that the president signed a proclamation making Juneteenth a federal holiday.