State lawmakers in Hawaii have pushed through a bill that will honor Juneteenth as a day of observance. The bill has made its way through the state House and Senate and now sits on Hawaii Governor David Ige's desk. While it is expected that he will sign the bill, Ige has not publicly indicated what his next action will be.
Hawaii is the 49th state to pass such a bill or one similar to it. Activist and Popolo Project Founder Akiemi Glenn believes that the state's relatively small Black population may have allowed lawmakers to ignore the bill for some time. However, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the protest movements that followed may have contributed to the bill being passed.
“I think it’s a good time and place — in terms of the landscape of politics and where we’re at right now as a society — to do things like this, to double down on our commitment to seeing this change come to fruition,” Rep. Cedric Gates told NBC News.
“There’s been tremendous momentum building around recognizing the humanity of Black people around the world, and certainly here in Hawaii, and listening to our voices," Glenn added.
If Ige signs the bill into law, South Dakota will become the only state not to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or a day of observance. Earlier this month, South Dakota's neighbor, North Dakota, signed a bill highlighting the ceremonial holiday.
At the federal level, lawmakers are also working to acknowledge Juneteenth as a holiday. Last June, a group of five bipartisan Senators put forth a bill acknowledging Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
“Juneteenth is about reclaiming our history, rejoicing in the progress we’ve made, and recommitting to the work yet undone," Sen. Cory Booker said.
"Our nation still has a long way to go to reckon with and overcome the dark legacy of slavery and the violence and injustice that has persisted after its end."
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