Juneteenth faces a tough road to becoming a federal holiday and possible


The official recognition of Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, is gaining ground in American businesses, with an increasing number of businesses and states recognizing the holiday.But the day faces a difficult path to become a federal holiday and perhaps an even longer path to become a financial market holiday, if history is a guide.

Twitter, Target, Nike and the NFL are among the entities that close their offices, granting employees a paid day off or paying them paid time off. JPMorgan Chase and PNC will close their bank branches early. This week, the governors of Virginia and New York announced their intention to introduce legislation to make it an official holiday.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are working on bills to make it a federal holiday, including Republican Senator John Cornyn and Democratic Representative Sheila-Jackson Lee, both of Texas. In addition, California Democrat Senator Kamala Harris said she would introduce similar legislation, along with Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Tina Smith, D-Minn., And Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Members of the Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics basketball teams travel to the MLK Memorial to support the Black Lives Matter and to mark the release from slavery June 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.Michael A. McCoy | Getty Images

Widespread recognition of Juneteenth comes in the wake of national protests against systemic racism following the deaths of several American blacks at the hands of the police, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.

The holiday itself, a suitcase of “June” and “nineteenth,” marks June 19, 1865, the day on which Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, in Texas, to inform slaves that the civil war had ended and that slavery had ended. been abolished. The announcement came two years after the proclamation of the emancipation proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln and a few months after the capitulation of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Over the next 155 years, the day turned into a celebration of the abolition of slavery, black history and culture.

Become a federal holiday

The creation of a federal holiday requires an act of Congress. Even these holidays only apply to federal employees and the District of Columbia, states are free to decide their own statutory holidays individually. Juneteenth has been a Texas holiday since 1980.

It can take years and many efforts to create a federal holiday, as was the case with the most recent in the country, commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Proposals for this holiday began after the assassination of the king in 1968, but it was not until 1983 that Congress passed a bill, which President Ronald Reagan promulgated.

Over the years, a number of legislative proposals have been put forward to create a nineteenth federal holiday, but not all have lived up to it. Recent presidents have recognized the day with declarations, and most states recognize Juneteenth as an official celebration, to say the least.

In a statement announcing his bill, Cornyn said, “As the list of black men and women killed by police in police custody grows, so do the calls to action, they must and as they should ”.

Become a holiday

Although the creation of a new federal holiday is rare, an addition to the market closure schedule is even rarer. The king’s birthday is the most recent holiday added to this list, but this has not happened for more than a decade after becoming federal law. Until 1998, the day was marked by a minute of silence at noon, but discussions continued.

If you decide to close for Juneteenth, the exchanges should formally change their rules by adding June 19 to the list of closing dates and submit these changes to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which Congress oversees. As the change is administrative in nature, the exchanges would not need SEC approval for the change to take effect.

That said, the SEC can finally say “no”. Federal law gives it the power to suspend changes to the rules if deemed necessary. If the SEC adopts this approach, it should explain the reasons for potential disapproval and offer the Exchange a hearing on the proposed rule change before making the final decision.

Among the current holidays market closings, Labor Day is the second most recent, added in 1887. Perhaps most of all, the reason that holidays are rarely added comes down to the role of trade in maintaining open markets and capital movements in a country at the center of the global financial structure, not in opposition to the reasons for the holidays.

In fact, the NYSE has removed more vacation closings in the past 100 years than it has added. Until 1953, the exchange closed all day for Lincoln’s birthday and Columbus Day. For more than 80 years, the NYSE has closed for the whole day or two minutes on Veteran’s Day, but since 2007, the holiday has been recognized with a moment of silence two minutes before the start of a day otherwise normal trading.

It should be noted that a commercial holiday does not have to be a federal public holiday. For example, Lincoln’s birthday was never a federal holiday, nor was Election Day, when the exchange closed annually until 1968. Memorial Day commercial holiday began before that it is a federal holiday, although a similar situation is hard to imagine today. The only time the market closes that is also not a federal holiday is Good Friday, and this tradition dates back to the beginning of the trade, long before the SEC existed.

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