Lawmakers in Oregon have unanimously moved to recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday. The state Senate passed House Bill 2168 on Tuesday (June 1) according to Oregon legislature from the state’s Senate Democrats. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
Observation of Juneteenth in the Pacific coast state will commemorate June 19, 2022, if signed. The bill recognizes the area’s racist roots and celebrates the contributions made by Black Americans who worked against inequity and systemic racism, and general oppression.
“The Emancipation Proclamation news arrived in waves to the enslaved Black women and men of my family,” said Senator Lew Frederick, who carried the bill, in the statement. “Family stories say, ‘joy was the first emotion and next skepticism.”
The Democratic rep continued to explain the significance of Juneteenth to Oregon history and culture.
“Clara Peoples is foundational to Oregon, her family is the reason we have unofficially observed this holiday, and the Peoples have remained central in framing the expectation of a more equitable tomorrow,” he said.
Frederick continued, “This official holiday will recognize that the people of Oregon, despite our past, can take the veil of ignorance away, and each year choose to have hope – on Juneteenth and every day thereafter.”
State lawmakers in Illinois have also recently passed similar legislation. The Daily Herald reported the midwestern state made both Juneteenth and Election Day official state holidays in May. If the bills are ultimately signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, mostly state employees, and both students and employees of public schools will be impacted.
Juneteenth will likely have less of an impact on schools than the Election Day holiday,” said Tom Bertrand, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards. “Most school years have ended by then, so it won’t affect the school calendar as much as the work calendar for those 12-month employees.”
State employees in Illinois already receive Election Day off.
Juneteenth, a tradition birthed in Gavelston, Texas was first recognized by the Lone Star State as an official holiday. Sometimes referred to as Emancipation Day, June 19 acknowledges when Federal troops take control of the state and ensure enslaved people were freed, full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
According to a Congressional Research Service fact sheet updated June 2020, Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Delaware all name Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Including the aforementioned states, all states and the District of Columbia except Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota recognize the holiday in some capacity. On Thursday, President Biden signed the bill for the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, making June 19th a federal and national holiday.