‘Mad or nah?’: Philly residents react to Juneteenth being named a federal holiday

Listen 4:36
The Positive Movement Entertainment drill team leads a protest

The Positive Movement Entertainment drill team leads a protest through West Philadelphia on Juneteenth in 2020. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

In 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan signed into law a federal statute declaring the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

More than 30 years later, America has finally added another commemorative day to its ranks: Juneteenth, a federal holiday celebrated on June 19 that marks the end of slavery in the U.S.

The news of President Joe Biden signing the bill into law was met with widespread celebration, particularly in African American communities.

But some expressed cynicism, suggesting the federal government was using the new holiday to distract Black Americans from the lack of progress on national voting rights and police reform.

Tamara Russell, aka P.O.C., hit the streets of Philadelphia to hear how residents were reacting to the news of America’s newest federal holiday.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal