The latest racial reckoning in the United States has paved the way for more representation, opportunities, and recognition for Black Americans, including specific holidays like Juneteenth (June 19). The historic date has garnered more support over the years as the day celebrating the emancipation of Black slaves from American slavery.
While most states and even some cities have recognized it, its status as a holiday varies across the nation. Here are the updates regarding Juneteenth's holiday status by state:
According to the Congressional Research Service, only three states do not officially recognize Juneteenth: Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Out of the 47 states that do recognize it, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York are the only states that classify Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees.
Washington will soon join those four states; Juneteenth will become a legal paid holiday in Washington starting in 2022.
Louisiana's governor signed off on a bill this week that makes Juneteenth a legal holiday in the state. Lawmakers in North Dakota passed a bill to make Juneteenth a ceremonial holiday, but the governor has not signed off on it as of June 15, 2021.
Washington D.C. has recognized Juneteenth as an official holiday since 2004.
Here are some of the American cities that have classified Juneteenth as a paid holiday:
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Chattanooga, Tennesee
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Springfield, Illinois
- Wilmington, Delaware
- Florence, South Carolina
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Chicago announced this week that it will recognize Juneteenth as a city holiday next year. It's already considered a paid holiday in Cook County, where the city is based. New York City also made the date a paid holiday for city employees and a public holiday for students in 2020.
On June 16, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The next day, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. June 18, 2021, was the first time Juneteenth was observed as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth is also the first new national holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was added in 1983.