Updated: June 18, 2021 05:23 PM
Created: June 17, 2021 04:10 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC/AP) — President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, saying he believes it will go down as one of the greatest honors he has as president.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered.
That was also about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management tweeted Thursday that since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the federal holiday will be observed on Friday, June 18 instead.
Today @POTUS will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday. As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.— U.S. Office of Personnel Management (@USOPM) June 17, 2021
The City of Rochester commemorated the holiday by raising the Juneteenth flag outside City Hall on Church Street Thursday afternoon.
Watch the full ceremony in the video in the player below:
This is the first year that Juneteenth is an official public holiday in New York. It was signed into law back in October.
Monroe Community College is also closing both of its campuses on Friday in observance of the holiday.
For the first time ever, the Penfield Central School District will host a Juneteenth celebration. Students have been learning about Juneteenth in preparation for the event.
News10NBC's Deanna Dewberry will emcee the virtual event. She was also asked to come up with a lesson for students in grades K-12. She and News10NBC photojournalist De'Jon Washington made a video explaining freedom through the eyes of the founding fathers, Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer.
On Saturday, the ROC Freedom Riders will observe the holiday with a 5-mile long bike ride that will include rest stops at Black-owned businesses and other Juneteenth events in the city. The ride will kick off at 10 a.m. at Strong National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Square.
"We're riding around the City of Rochester to celebrate Juneteenth, what it means to our community and all people," said ROC Freedom Riders co-founder Rashad J. Smith. "We know that it's a federal holiday this year and we ask that question why and so those are some of the things that we will address tomorrow [Saturday]."
Those interested can sign up here.
The Boys and Girls Club is hosting a special Juneteenth picnic on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature a cookout, games and more.
Copyright 2021 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company