BOSTON (CBS) – With a stroke of a presidential pen, Juneteenth became the latest federal holiday.
“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from the history,” said President Joe Biden from the bill signing Thursday.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Celebrated on June 19, it marks the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were informed of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. It had been two years since President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
“It’s a step. It’s absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Keith Abbott of Whittier Health Center in Roxbury.
The holiday is a symbol of recognition and hope for Abbott who saw the disparity in healthcare among the Black community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Juneteenth is a reminder that the fight for equality isn’t over.
“It’s still a movement that’ll continue, so folks should get behind it, not only just to take a day off and celebrate, but to understand the meaning behind it,” Abbott told WBZ-TV.READ MORE: Wednesday's Child: 7-Year-Old Jose
Less than a mile down Tremont Street, along the George Floyd protest route in Boston, is MIDA – one of Boston’s only restaurants owned and operated by a black chef.
“I think the fight is only hard because not everyone is trying to fight with us,” said Chef Douglass Williams.
The fight for freedom, to open businesses and for equal access to healthcare.
Chef Williams believes the Juneteenth holiday is about learning from our painful history to create greater opportunities for people of color.MORE NEWS: Teen Lifeguards Save Man Who Suffered Heart Attack On Dennis Beach
“When it’s a federal holiday, now we’re very aware of it,” said Williams. “I think that if we all are a part of that nationally, we can learn more about it. It can be in our textbooks, in our schools.”