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Juneteenth 2024: Who is still working? What is still open?

(NewsNation) — This Wednesday is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, which marks the date when the last enslaved people in the United States learned they were free. 

President Joe Biden signed a bill to designate Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, as a federal holiday, and all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia recognize it as a holiday or observance. However, according to the Congressional Research Service, only 28 states have made it a permanent paid or legal holiday with legislation or executive action.

The Federal Reserve and its 24 bank branches are set to be closed on Wednesday for Juneteenth. Other banks, such as Capitol One, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Chase, and American National Bank will close as well. 

On X, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts said federal courtrooms would be closed but e-filing is still available.

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is closing for Juneteenth, and there will be no regular mail delivery, except holiday premium Priority Mail Express. People can still order stamps, shipping supplies, print shipping labels and request package pickups online.

UPS and FedEx store locations are open, though, will pickup and delivery services available. 

Private employers are not required to give people paid time off on any holidays, management services company ADP writes, although some states have restrictions on making employees work on these days. They can choose to observe holidays as paid ones, and ADP notes that many employees have either done so for Juneteenth, or offered employees “floating holidays.”

What is Juneteenth?

It may have only been officially recognized as a federal holiday in the last few years, but Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans, the National Museum of African American History and Culture said on its website. 

“The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times,” the museum wrote.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared in 1863 that “all persons held as slaves” in states that were part of the Confederacy “are, and henceforward shall be free.” However, this was not enforced in many places until the end of the Civil War, and the Associated Press writes that white people who profited from unpaid labor were reluctant to share the news. In Texas, the History Channel wrote, slavery had continued as the state did not see large-scale fighting or a “significant” number of Union troops. 

When the Civil War ended in April 1865, U.S. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” The History Channel notes emancipation still did not happen “overnight” when this happened, but newly freed people celebrated. Slavery would not be formally abolished until that December when the 13th amendment was ratified. 

The next year, newly freed people in Texas organized “Jubilee Day” on June 19, 1866. Celebrations continued on this day for decades, and in 1979, Texas made Juneteenth an official holiday. Other states did as well, and then in June 2021, Biden made it a federal holiday after Congress passed a resolution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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