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Associated Press: Black Americans demand more action to curb racism

Black Americans rejoiced after President Joe Biden made June 19 a federal holiday to celebrate the end of slavery, but some said that while they value recognition in time of reckoning about racism in America, more is needed to change policies that hurt so many their brothers.

It's great, but it's not enough, said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Kansina City Urban Association. Grant said she was pleased with Congress's swift vote this week to make June 19 a national holiday because it's been so long. But she added that they need Congress to protect voting rights, and this must happen now so that there is no further backsliding. This is the most important thing that Congress can address at this time.

At a law-signing ceremony at the White House on Thursday, President Joe Biden agreed that more was needed than commemorating the events of June 19, 1985, when Union soldiers brought news of freedom to black slaves in Galveston, Texas, more than two years after President Abraham announced Lincoln to liberate the aroma in the southern states.

Biden said before signing a law making June 19 a federal holiday that this day is not only a celebration of the past, but a call to action. Among those in attendance were dozens of members of Congress and a 94-year-old Texas woman named Opal Lee, who called for the day to be made a national holiday.

Biden spoke of voting rights as one of the areas in which action will be taken. And that's after Republican-led states enacted or studied legislation that activists say limits freedom of voting, especially for people of color. Legislation on voting rights and police reform after the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed blacks remains stalled in Congress.