ALLENTOWN, Pa. – For the first time ever, Juneteenth will be celebrated as a federal holiday.
June 19 is marked every year to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Though it’s been celebrated for years, President Joe Biden just signed a law that makes the day a federal holiday.
The Lehigh Valley will mark Juneteenth this year, as a day filled with celebrations and commemorations.
In Allentown, city leaders will start with a flag raising at City Hall. Then the family-friendly celebrations will spill into downtown Allentown, with entertainment, food, dancing and even a youth flag football tournament.
Bethlehem will celebrate as well. Things there kick off at 11 a.m. with music, children’s events, a cinema viewing panel discussion, and historical menu tasting.
With the official signature of President Biden, Juneteenth now becomes the 11th Federal holiday recognized by the US government. The last one, notably, was in 1983. It became Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Since Juneteenth happened to fall on a Saturday this year, most federal employees observed the holiday on Friday.
President Biden says he hopes the moment to make sure the day is marked officially in history will be something his grandchildren remember.
“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel to,” Biden said.