COLUMBUS, Ohio — A resolution to declare Juneteenth a paid federal holiday in Ohio was introduced to the House Thursday.
State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) introduced the resolution that would make June 19 a federal holiday.
“This country was built off of the free labor of enslaved African Americans from the construction of the White House, to bridges and roads. As we prepare to observe Juneteenth this year, it is vital that people can properly celebrate America’s history,” Rep. Brent said. “This holiday has long been recognized by 45 states and the District of Columbia. It is time for the nation to collectively observe the significance of the emancipation of our enslaved ancestors.”
Juneteenth—also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Cel-Liberation Day—is an American holiday commemorating June 19, 1865—the date in which Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that the Civil War had ended and all those still enslaved were to be free.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two years before Granger made the announcement in Texas, the state was still heavily involved in slavery as Union troops were minimal in the area, making enforcement of the order to free all slaves difficult.
The holiday lost traction in the early 1900s but saw a resurgence during the Civil Rights movement. In 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas. Since then, 47 states have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday or ceremonial holiday—Ohio made the decision in 2006.
The resolution to make Juneteenth a federal paid holiday comes on the heels of protests against racial injustices facing minorities.
Brent said that federal acknowledgment of the historic date “is one way to ensure minority communities can annually commemorate their history.”