Rhode Island is recognizing Juneteeth as a state holiday or a special day of observance, which will make it the 42nd state to do so.
Juneteeth, also known as the 19th of June, is the recognition of when Union General Granger announced the freedom of all slaves in the last southern state on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas. Following the end of the Civil War, the announcement came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
A Press Release dated March 18 states that the celebration of slaves established “America’s second Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African-American holiday observance.”
“With so many states recognizing Juneteeth, we are optimistic that congress will finally pass legislation to make Juneteeth Independence Day a National Day of Observance, like Flag Day or Patriot Day,” states Reverend Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder and Chairman of the National Juneteeth Holiday Campaign and the National Juneteeth Observance Foundation (NJOF) in the Press Release.
Juneteeth was first acknowledged as “Juneteeth Independence Day” in 1997. With the leadership of Lula Briggs Galloway, President of the National Association of Juneteeth League and Reverend Myers, U.S Congress officially passed the legislation recognizing Juneteeth as “Juneteeth Independence Day” in Amercia, as stated the National Juneteeth website.
Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah are the on eight states which have yet to pass the legislation recognizing Juneteeth.
Reverend Myers hopes that “President Obama will also support efforts by issuing a Presidential Juneteeth Proclamation and hosting a White House Juneteeth Celebration in June.”