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Juneteenth Now Official State Holiday

Juneteenth Photo Credit: William C Teller via Wikimedia Commons

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation that will officially designate Juneteeth as an official holiday each year on June 19 to celebrate the end of slavery.

After making Juneteenth a holiday for state employees this year, Cuomo has officially recognized it as an annual holiday statewide.

Cuomo said that Juneteenth is "a day to commemorate the end to slavery and celebrates Black and African American freedom and achievements while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures."

"I am incredibly proud to sign into law this legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York State, a day which commemorates the end to slavery in the United States," Cuomo said when announcing the legislation.

"This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today.”

President Abraham Lincoln actually issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, but news of the momentous event took place. Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1885, when the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out about it from Union army personnel, making them the last to know they were free.

“Finally, we are beginning to acknowledge the historic oppression and injustices that African-Americans have endured,” Sen. Kevin Parker said. “This holiday is a first step in reconciliation and healing that our great state needs in order to ensure equity for all people.”

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman added: "Juneteenth serves as a piece of history towards Black liberation in this country. I am glad to serve along with my colleagues in government and Governor Cuomo, as a part of ensuring these important parts of Black American history will continue to be told in our great state of New York."

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