Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Thursday declared June 19 a holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands following the announcement by President Joseph R. Biden establishing the date as a federal holiday.
Governor Bryan’s announcement came after legislation establishing the Juneteenth holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on Thursday afternoon.
Governor Bryan announced administrative leave for all non-essential government employees and the closure of government offices on Friday in honor of the newly proclaimed federal holiday. The governor also announced that the territory will officially observe the holiday on Saturday in accordance with federal law.
“Although we observe our emancipation on July 3rd, In solidarity with the rest of the nation, we will close government offices and grant administrative leave for non-essential government employees this Friday in honor of the Juneteenth holiday,” Governor Bryan said. “Our country took an important step toward embracing the true telling of its history, and I thank President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Congress for their bold leadership in officially marking this significant event in black history.”
Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when the last enslaved Africans in America learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.