The House committee hearing on slavery reparations just ended.
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover testified before the House panel as it considered legislation that would establish a commission to study the consequences and impacts of slavery and make recommendations for reparations proposals.
Today marked another important event: The hearing fell on Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, which celebrates the end of slavery.
Here's what you need to know about the day:
- What the day means: Speaking in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army notified slaves of their emancipation. (Remember: President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had been written and read more than two years earlier.)
- It has a long history: Juneteenth is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery. What started as a celebration of emancipation day in Texas eventually spread to other states — some celebrations date back to 1866.
- Juneteenth is celebrated across the US: There are 46 states with laws or resolutions celebrating Juneteenth (Pennsylvania today became the latest to officially recognize the day). It became a state holiday for Texas in 1980.
- But it's not a national holiday: The US Senate passed a resolution last year recognizing "Juneteenth Independence Day" as a national holiday, but it has not yet been approved in the House. The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, an organization based in Mississippi, has worked for years to get Juneteenth recognized or observed as a national holiday for years.