Premises closed today in honor of Juneteenth
All previously scheduled passport and visa appointments for today have been cancelled. The Embassy will contact customers with new appointment times.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States celebrating the emancipation of African American slaves. Originating in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, it has been celebrated annually on June 19th throughout the United States.
Historically, the US got its first new national holiday in 38 years. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act last year, making Juneteenth a federal holiday just days before June 19th. This is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day, added in 1983. Juneteenth -- a blend of the date it's celebrated -- marks the freedom of enslaved Black people in the US. It's also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day. (Unlike most federal holidays, the USPS will still deliver mail Friday and Saturday this year.)
The observation of Juneteenth stretches back to 1865, but the holiday gained significant national attention in 2020, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and others sparked Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systematic violence aimed at Black Americans.
Observed by millions of Black Americans, it's commemorated to some degree in nearly every US state. Major companies such as Spotify, Twitter and Lyft added Juneteenth to their calendars for the first time in 2020. Google made Juneteenth an official calendar holiday, too (Apple's calendar already noted it.)
Some companies and organizations also give employees the day off to observe the holiday. Moreover, entrepreneur Elon Musk said he would make Juneteenth a permanent US holiday for his companies Tesla and SpaceX, though not a paid day off.
Now that Biden has signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, it's officially a federal holiday. That means it's established by law, such as other holidays, including Labor Day, Memorial Day and New Year's Day. Now that it's approved, Juneteenth is the 11th federal holiday in the US.
U.S. Embassy Athens