Gov. Dunleavy Considers Making Juneteenth a State Holiday in Alaska

As Alaska celebrates Juneteenth, Governor Mike Dunleavy is contemplating signing Senate Bill 22, which would make Juneteenth a legal holiday in the state.

Dunleavy has until early July to decide, and if approved, the holiday will officially take effect in 2025. Find the source at alaskapublic

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th, commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

For Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, the bill’s sponsor, recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday is essential to honor the true freedom of enslaved people.

President Joe Biden established Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021, inspiring Gray-Jackson to reintroduce her bill in Alaska.

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The Senate passed the bill 16-4, and the House approved it 37-3, with the aim of making Juneteenth a paid holiday for state workers, contingent on union contracts.

While more than half of U.S. states already recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday, Alaska’s recognition would mark a significant milestone. Anchorage made Juneteenth a paid municipal holiday last year, alongside Indigenous People’s Day.

Supporters, including Celeste Hodge Growden of the Alaska Black Caucus, view the holiday as a vital opportunity for reflection, education, and celebration of freedom for all. Critics, however, argue about the economic impact of adding a paid holiday.

Governor Dunleavy’s decision remains pending. He can sign the bill, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. The outcome could bring Alaska closer to acknowledging and celebrating its diverse history and the ongoing journey towards equality.

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