'An uphill battle': states slow to observe Juneteenth

by Kimberlee Kruesi and Cheyanne Mumphrey, Associated Press from Nashville, Tn.

Although the U.S. made Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, many states across the country have been slow to recognize the holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery in America. In many states, public employees will be doing business as usual on June 19.

149014A Houston dancer performs during a dedication ceremony for the mural "Absolute Equality" in downtown Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 2021. Recognition of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S., gained traction in 2020, but has since stalled.Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News/AP/File

June 16, 2022

Recognition of Juneteenth, the effective end of slavery in the U.S., gained traction after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. But after an initial burst of action, the movement to have it recognized as an official holiday in the states has largely stalled.

Although almost every state recognizes Juneteenth in some fashion, many have been slow to do more than issue a proclamation or resolution, even as some continue to commemorate the Confederacy.

Lawmakers in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and other states failed to advance proposals this year that would have closed state offices and given most of their public employees paid time off for the June 19 holiday.

That trend infuriates Black leaders and community organizers who view making Juneteenth a paid holiday the bare minimum state officials can do to help honor an often overlooked and ignored piece of American history.

“Juneteenth marks the date of major significance in American history. It represents the ways in which freedom for Black people have been delayed,” said Democratic Rep. Anthony Nolan, who is Black, while arguing in favor of making Juneteenth a paid holiday in Connecticut on the House floor. “And if we delay this, it’s a smack in the face to Black folks.”

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Last edited 11/29/2022 7:46:01 PM

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