Biden to celebrate Juneteenth early with White House concert on Monday


By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will celebrate the Juneteenth holiday early on Monday with a White House concert that includes singers Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.

Biden signed a law in 2021 that made June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. It commemorates the day in 1865 – after the Confederate states surrendered to end the Civil War – when a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform a group of enslaved African Americans of their freedom under President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

Long a regional holiday in the U.S. South, Juneteenth rose in prominence across the country following 2020 protests over the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black Americans.

Others scheduled to appear at the White House event on the South Lawn include singer and songwriter Raheem DeVaughn, gospel singer Kirk Franklin, rapper Doug E. Fresh, singer and songwriter Anthony Hamilton, singer and actress Patina Miller, country singer and songwriter Brittney Spencer, jazz musician Trombone Shorty, the singer and songwriter Charlie Wilson and the comedian and actor Roy Wood, Jr.

Biden is expected to deliver remarks ahead of the concert.

The White House event comes during a heated presidential election in which Black voters are likely to play a central role in the rematch between Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump.

Biden frequently credits Black Americans for his 2020 win, but polls show that these same voters may not be as enthusiastic this November. Minor changes in political loyalties or low turnout in key states could influence who wins in November.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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