The House unanimously passed House Bill 119 Thursday recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, recognizing the official end of slavery in America. It is likely that the Senate will likewise pass the bill before the end of this year’s session on Wednesday night.
As I said when the bill was introduced earlier in June, it is a shame that this bill was not introduced earlier in the session so that it could have been passed in time for this year’s Juneteenth celebration. But that’s water under the bridge at this point.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans in the United States were emancipated, on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. On that day, two months after the end of the Civil War, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, issued General Order No. 3, which announced that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free.”
Governor John Carney has formally recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday during the past two years, but if HB 119 passes, future Juneteenths would be recognized automatically. This also follows Congress and President Joe Biden declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday earlier this month.
|HOUSE BILL 119 SPONSORS||YES VOTES||NO VOTES|
|Dorsey Walker, Bolden, Chukwuocha, Cooke, K.Johnson, Lambert, Minor-Brown, S.Moore, Wilson-Anton, Baumbach, Griffith, Kowalko, Lynn, Morrison, Osienski, K.Williams, M.Smith, Briggs King||House Passed 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Dukes (Absent)|
|Brown, Lockman, Pinkney, Gay, S.McBride, Sokola, Townsend|
|CURRENT STATUS —|
“We are not that far removed from an era in which Americans owned other people as property. My great-grandparents were born slaves, and their struggle to achieve freedom, equality and opportunity has been passed down through my family. This story is the same for so many Black families,” said Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker. “By placing Juneteenth on the same level as other holidays such as Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we shall be showing the significance of this day and what it means to Black people across our state and nation. June 19, 1865 is the day of true independence for Black people. Thank you to my colleagues for passing HB 119 unanimously today.”
“Governor John Carney has observed this day of emancipation each of the last two years in state government, as we continue to raise awareness of this important moment in history permanently by adding Juneteenth to the list of legal holidays here in the First State,” said Sen. Darius Brown, the lead Senate sponsor of HB 119. “I thank my colleagues in the House for passing this legislation and I look forward to sending the bill to Gov. Carney soon.”