A bill to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday passed the Minnesota Legislature with broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz Friday.
“Juneteenth is an important opportunity for communities across the state and nation to celebrate freedom, recognize the history and contributions of Black Americans, and recommit to building a more just and equitable society for everyone,” Walz said. “Creating Juneteenth as a state holiday is a long overdue celebration of independence.”
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865, which is when enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
“Juneteenth is a day to reflect on both bondage and freedom, a day of both pain and purpose. It is in equal measure a remembrance of both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation as well as a celebration of the promise of a brighter morning to come,” said bill author Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis.
Some Republicans objected to the bill because they believe it was rushed through the committee process and didn’t take into consideration the financial impact an extra day off will have on state and local governments.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan called the holiday an opportunity to “recommit to doing everything in our power to deconstruct generations of systemic racism.”
President Joe Biden established Juneteenth as a federal holiday in June 2021, the first new national holiday since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.