Washington Legislature approves Juneteenth as state holiday

Juneteenth to be a state holiday in Washington state in 2022 (Prosser)
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News of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not reach slaves in Texas for two-and-a-half years when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger marched into Galveston on June 19, 1865, to announce the end of slavery and the Civil War to the last slaves still toiling for their masters on American soil. Also known as “Black Independence Day,” the moment has been enshrined as Juneteenth, one of the most important dates in civil rights history. In 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, and all but a handful of states honor the date, which has received renewed attention amid 2020’s racial turmoil.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Legislature has passed a measure that makes Juneteenth a legal state holiday.

The measure making June 19 a state paid holiday passed the Democratic-led Senate on a bipartisan 47-1 vote and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. The House passed the measure in February on an 89 -9 vote.

Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day — commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free in 1865 in Galveston, Texas, where Union soldiers brought them the news two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

In 2007, the Legislature designated Juneteenth as a day of remembrance. South Dakota and Hawaii are the only other states that don’t have some sort of official observance of Juneteenth.

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