By Steve Blanchard - June 18, 2021
The United States has a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. President Joe Biden signed a law making Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th federal holiday.
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 more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.
“As an institution that recognizes and celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion, Moffitt Cancer Center applauds the addition of this important holiday to our calendars,” said Dr. Patrick Hwu, president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center. “Holidays such as these are meant to recognize milestones, and this significant day in our nation’s history deserves this acclaim.”
"Holidays such as these are meant to recognize milestones, and this significant day in our nation’s history deserves this acclaim."- Dr. Patrick Hwu, CEO and President of Moffitt Cancer Center
The Senate passed the bill a day earlier under a unanimous consent agreement that expedites the process for considering legislation.
The vote comes just one year after the nation and the world were enveloped in rallies calling for the end of systemic racism and the unjust treatment of Black people. Those protests, ignited by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, empowered members of Moffitt’s leadership to voice its support for promoting inclusion and equity in not only its mission to prevent and cure cancer, but to maintain a welcoming health care facility for all team members and anyone who needs Moffitt’s services.
On June 17, the Black Empowerment Alliance at Moffitt (BEAM), a team member engagement network, hosted a virtual celebration of Juneteenth and invited everyone in the organization to attend. It will likely be the first of many Juneteenth celebrations at the cancer center.
“I’ve said it many times, cancer doesn’t discriminate,” said Dr. B. Lee Green, vice president of Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications at Moffitt. “I am thrilled to see this federal holiday added to the calendar and hope that when it is commemorated, our team members, patients and their families will take a moment to recognize the importance of that fateful day in 1865.”
Many states already recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or have an official observance of the day. Under the new legislation, the federal holiday will be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
"I am thrilled to see this federal holiday added to the calendar and hope that when it is commemorated, our team members, patients and their families will take a moment to recognize the importance of that fateful day in 1865."- Dr. B. Lee Green, Vice President of Diversity, PR and Strategic Communications