Freedom Day for Slaves

SPRINGFIELD – Because Black history is American history, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is pushing to create a state holiday for Juneteenth National Freedom Day on June 19.

“On June 19, 1865, the last slaves were freed, which created a milestone for Black Americans that should be celebrated and used to help educate youth today,” Lightford said. “Making Juneteenth a state holiday is a way of highlighting our freedom and reminding us how far we’ve come.”

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which established that all enslaved people in Confederate states were forever free. In 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed, leading to the name Juneteenth.

Senate Bill 1965 creates a state holiday for Juneteenth National Freedom Day on June 19, which would be a paid day off holiday for all state employees and a school holiday.

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the “second American Independence Day.” Today, Juneteenth has grown from the celebration of the abolition of slavery into a celebration of African American arts, culture, and the impacts of the civil rights movement throughout the country.

“June 19, 1865 is the day the United States truly became the land of the free,” Lightford said. “It’s a day everyone should celebrate, and it’s a reminder that Black Americans are still recovering from the terrible legacy of slavery.”

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 1965 passed the Senate Executive Committee and is scheduled to go to the Senate floor for further debate.