Juneteenth federal holiday: ‘Slavery and racism are a part of the history of the United States’
June 19 is celebrated in the United States, highlighting the day when the last of enslaved African Americans were freed in 1865. Credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus
A year ago, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth law declaring a legal public holiday annually on June 19, saying signing the bill was “one of the greatest honors I’ve had as president.”
This year, the Juneteenth law fell on a Sunday, and therefore the federal holiday was celebrated on Monday with several closures such as post offices, banks, federal agencies, and other venues. For example, Florida A&M University closed its campus in recognition of the holiday.
Juneteenth is the date that ended slavery in the U.S. and was mostly celebrated by African Americans. Also called Emancipation Day, the holiday commemorates the day in 1865 that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and ensured that enslaved people there would be freed. Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but the news took years to reach Texas and many other places, according to the nonprofit States Newsroom.
In Florida, Juneteenth is not a state-paid holiday.
Many Florida Democrats have tried to designate Juneteenth Day as a paid holiday for state workers, but the legislation hasn’t passed.
For instance, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Orange County Democrat, was unsuccessful in pushing through legislation in the 2022 session that would establish June 19 or Juneteenth Day as a paid holiday for state employees. Bracy’s SB 1164, entitled “Juneteenth Day,” didn’t gain much traction in the session, according to legislative records.
Monday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a 2022 gubernatorial Democratic candidate, earlier issued a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth.
“As we celebrate Juneteenth and as a nation founded on the principles of freedom and equality for all, we must recommit to working toward a more just world,” Fried said in news release. The proclamation recognizing Juneteenth includes this language:
WHEREAS, slavery and racism are a part of the history of the United States that we must recognize to understand its impacts that exist still today, learning from this dark chapter so we do not repeat this dark chapter in the story of our nation; and
WHEREAS, Juneteenth is an opportunity to honor the determination and commitment of all those who labor for equality, including civil rights leaders, public officials, educators, community leaders, and everyday Americans who ultimately determine our progress towards the ideas of our founding documents…
Later Monday, another Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Crist, has scheduled an event in honor of the Juneteenth Holiday featuring a panel discussion on “protecting Black history in celebration of Juneteenth,” according to a press release.
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