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Juneteenth will be state holiday under bill sent to Whitmer

Representative Helena Scott (D-Detroit) speaks on the Michigan House floor about her bill to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.
Rick Pluta
Michigan Public Radio Network
Representative Helena Scott (D-Detroit) speaks on the Michigan House floor about her bill to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

Juneteenth will be an official state holiday in Michigan under legislation on its way to Governor Gretchen Whitmer. That’s after the state House adopted the bills Wednesday.

June 19 has been a federal holiday since 2021. Juneteenth is commemorated as the day slavery was officially ended in the U.S. in 1865. It falls this year on this coming Monday.

“It encourages citizens to pause on June 19th and reflect on the strong survival instincts of the African-American slaves and on the great joy with which the African-Americans first celebrated the abolition of slavery,” said Representative Helena Scott (D-Detroit), a bill sponsor.

Juneteenth hearkens the arrival on June 19, 1865, of Union troops in Galveston, Texas, to announce the Civil War was over and Black slaves in the former Confederacy were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation.

In a floor speech, Scott said Juneteenth has been given short shrift in the history books.

“History matters and, unfortunately, there has been a long history of whitewashing history – a long history of creating and passing down historical narratives that leave out minority communities,” she said.

The bills were adopted with wide bipartisan support, although four Republicans voted “no. “

Governor Whitmer is expected to sign the legislation, but there’s no word on possible timing. Whitmer signed a proclamation last year declaring a Juneteenth a holiday for state employees.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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