Peace Corps Celebrates Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday

June 17, 2021

Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The holiday will commemorate June 19, 1865, the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, Texas. That day, 250,000 enslaved Black Americans were legally freed, marking the official end of chattel slavery in the United States. Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn issued the following statement in response:

“Juneteenth serves as a stark reminder of the long-awaited freedom of Black Americans in our history. It also offers an opportunity to recognize the enduring legacy of slavery on our society, and course correct accordingly. Acknowledging our painful, nearly 250-year history with slavery and marking June 19 as a federal holiday is a step toward elevating awareness and understanding of the Black American experience to communities around the world.

“The Peace Corps is deeply committed to our mission of world peace and friendship and we acknowledge that this mission cannot be achieved without first eradicating systemic racism and building bridges of understanding. Today, we celebrate the progress we have made, and recommit to meeting this historic period with intentionality and purpose.”

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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