NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - President Biden has signed a bill that has made Juneteenth a federal holiday Thursday afternoon.

June 19th marks the day the last African Americans were deemed free, two years after the emancipation proclamation.

News 4’s crew caught up with people in the community about their thoughts on Juneteenth becoming the 11th federal holiday in the U.S.

“I originally became aware of Juneteenth in Houston, Texas in 1978 and I’ve been celebrating it ever since,” said Bill Allen, a Nashville resident.

For others, acknowledging this day is a step in the right direction but there’s still a sense of conflict.

“On one hand I’m excited that America has finally apologized for slavery and come out and taken a step to right the wrong but I’m not content there’s so much more work that needs to be done,” says Tequila Johnson, with The Equity Alliance in Nashville. So this is for me a band-aid on a head gash. We need reparations, we need police injustice to be alleviated, we need a living wage.

Tennessee Republican Congressman Scott Desjarlais was one of the 14 republicans who voted against the bill. His office released a statement saying they voted against the bill claiming it to be financially irresponsible. 

Representative DesJarlais voted no on H. Res. 479 because he believes it is fiscally irresponsible to continue to create new paid holidays for federal workers while the majority of hard-working private-sector employees get left to pay the bill. Juneteenth is a state holiday in the vast majority of American states. The only thing making this holiday federal does is spending $600 million dollars to pay federal employees to not come to work. - Rep. Desjarlais

Many others believe the federal holiday finally acknowledges America's dark history.

"You won’t be able to erase or excuse or push aside the facts, and Juneteenth is a fact," said Angel Sims, Nashville native and local realtor.

For more information on Juneteenth events scheduled in Nashville click here.

Producer for News4. A California transplant, Marshall uses west coast sunshine to shed light on Nashville's breaking news.

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