The celebration commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told more than two years later that enslaved African Americans had been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
While some have always honored Juneteenth, the Black Lives Matter protest movement against racial injustice last summer in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans sparked increased attention for the event, now a federal holiday.
This week, both chambers of Congress passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law.
Here’s what stars are saying about the occasion.
Usher attends Juneteenth bill signing at White House
Usher, who penned a moving op-ed last year about the importance of Juneteenth, was in the audience at the White House as President Biden signed the bill on Thursday, which he called an “incredible moment.”
“It’s finally official.. #Juneteenth,” Usher tweeted alongside photos of himself with Vice President Kamala Harris and activist Opal Lee.
He also took to his Instagram story to celebrate the “long overdue” moment.
“Ladies and gentlemen we did it,” Usher said. “We managed to get here.”
Tina Knowles-Lawson says Juneteenth is a ‘very important holiday’
Tina Knowles-Lawson, who raised her famous daughters Beyoncé and Solange in Texas, said her family has always celebrated the holiday.
“When I was a child… we always celebrated Juneteenth. It was a day that you went to the beach,” the Galveston native said. “It’s always been a very important holiday.”
Knowles-Lawson said she was “surprised” many people weren’t familiar with Juneteenth when she moved to California in the 70s. She said she believes “a lot of history (has) kind of been hidden,” a fact she’s trying to change through her partnership with Facebook to educate people on the holiday.
“Everyone needs to know the truth. This is not the only history that’s been either overlooked, changed and rewritten,” Knowles-Lawson said.
Tia Mowry reflects on lessons she’s had to teach her kids
“I want my son or my daughter to be equipped when they go out into the world,” the “Sister, Sister” star said, adding that “knowledge is power.”
“Unfortunately I’ve experienced racism at a young age, and my son experienced hate at a young age, and so I feel that the more I equip him with knowledge… I feel better about him being able to stand up for himself.”
‘We need to wake up’: Tia Mowry-Hardrict says racial injustice brings her to tears
Kerry Washington, LeVar Burton, more celebrate Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday
Celebrities including Kerry Washington shared their excitement for the new official holiday on social media.
“156 years later and #Juneteenth is becoming a Federal Holiday,” the “Scandal” actress tweeted Wednesday.
“Happy Juneteenth (celebrated) y’all!” LeVar Burton wrote Friday.
“Star Trek” actor George Takei used his platform to thank “the tireless advocacy of Opal Lee.”
“On June 19, 1865, enslaved Black people in TX finally learned they’d been freed 2+ years earlier by proclamation. African Americans have been commemorating this day for decades, and it’s finally a federal holiday thanks to the tireless advocacy of Opal Lee, who is 94. #Juneteenth,” Takei tweeted.
Contributing: Cydney Henderson
On June 19, 1865, enslaved Black people in TX finally learned they’d been freed 2+ years earlier by proclamation. African Americans have been commemorating this day for decades, and it’s finally a federal holiday thanks to the tireless advocacy of Opal Lee, who is 94. #Juneteenth
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 18, 2021
Original posted at www.usatoday.com