When Is Juneteenth and Is It a Federal Holiday?

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of the words "June" and "nineteenth," has gained awareness in recent years as people have pushed for a day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans.

Stephen Frost, a diversity and inclusion thought leader, believes recognition of Juneteenth is only one small step towards true "inclusion" in the U.S.

He told Newsweek: "After the murder of George Floyd, a swathe of companies released statements supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and posted black squares on their corporate social media accounts. But, for many, this was as far as the activism went.

"For example, Nike and Adidas retweeted each other's anti-racism messages, but at that time, Adidas' executive board of six was five white men and one white woman.

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Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery wildpixel/Getty Images

"Nike's executive board of ten was seven white men and three white women. Adidas now had a board of five white men and one woman of color, and Nike's board has expanded and become more diverse, although still predominately features white men.

"Will we see similar actions from organizations this Juneteenth? Organizations tend to adopt one of four approaches to diversity and inclusion.

"Diversity 2.0 is the reputational or marketing-led approach sees organizations begin to 'take a stand' in visible ways. Old Navy's 2021 Juneteenth campaign received criticism for underpaying influencers and trying to profit off Juneteenth in general.

"It's essential that organizations move beyond Diversity 2.0 and marketing-led, inauthentic approaches to Inclusion 3.0, where inclusion is truly embedded in an organization, or better yet, Inclusion 4.0 which is system change."

When is Juneteenth?

As its name implies, Juneteenth commemorates the date June 19 which occurred in 1865. This day witnessed Union Army Major General Gordon Granger riding into Galveston, Texas, and informing slaves of their emancipation.

June 19, 1865 arrived more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

And despite Lincoln's declaration that all enslaved people were free on paper, the awful reality was this was often not true.

Juneteenth is today also called Emancipation Day and sees people across the U.S. mark the moment with food and festivities, in a similar manner to the Fourth of July.

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as President Joe Biden looks on during an event to mark the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, June 17, 2021, in Washington. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Is Juneteenth A Federal Holiday?

Juneteenth has evolved and grown in the decades since it was first marked with local festivities and commemorations.

President Joe Biden in 2021 signed a bill into law to officially designate Juneteenth as an American federal holiday.

Because June 19, 2022, falls on a Sunday, federal workers will have the day off on Monday, June 20.

Federal holidays, such as Juneteenth usually apply to government workers, including those working for the U.S. Postal Service, law enforcement, public health and clerical workers at various government agencies can take that specific day off or in lieu.

Federal holidays can consequently mean non-essential federal government offices are closed and banks, post offices and schools will almost certainly not be open for business on June 20, 2022.

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A demonstrator plays with washable color powder during a Juneteenth march and rally in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2020. The US marks the end of slavery by celebrating Juneteenth, with the annual unofficial holiday taking on renewed significance as millions of Americans confront the nation's living legacy of racial injustice. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Federal holidays are, however, not mandatory for businesses in the U.S., but many businesses will likely observe Juneteenth 2022.

David A. Bateman, an associate professor of Government at Cornell University, believes Juneteenth should have been marked officially a long time ago.

He told Newsweek: "[T]his country went more than a century and a half either brushing off slavery or pretending it wasn't that big a deal, and when it did acknowledge anything it did so from the perspective of the white supremacist Jim Crow regimes or of the self-congratulatory Grand Army of the Republic.

"Juneteenth as a federal holiday, inviting the historical perspectives and memories of Black communities, is long overdue as a concrete act of equal recognition, with all the significance and limits that equal recognition rather than substantive equality implies."