SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A bill making its way through the California state legislature would make Juneteenth a state holiday.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day on which a Union general arrived in Texas and “inform[ed] enslaved Blacks of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended,” according to a state analysis of the bill. The announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Assembly Bill 1655 would allow state employees to take paid time off on June 19th or the nearest Friday or Monday if it falls on a weekend, as happened this year.
The bill was introduced by Assembly Members Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Mia Bonta and Akilah Weber and passed the state Assembly 75-0 in May. It is now up for consideration by the Senate.
Juneteenth would be the newest paid state holiday in California since César Chávez Day was established in 2000 and is observed every March 31.
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill just two days prior to Juneteenth that established it as a federally observed holiday.
According to Pew Research Center, although all 50 states have recognized Juneteenth in some capacity, currently only 24 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday and give state workers the day off. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official state holiday in 1980.