Bill would make Juneteenth a holiday in Minnesota – Duluth News Tribune

St. PAUL – Minnesota lawmakers are considering legislation to designate Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, as a public holiday.

Juneteenth has been recognized as a federal holiday since 2021, but less than half of the states have moved to do the same. While Minnesota has recognized Juneteenth symbolically in the past, the bill prepared by Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, would establish it as an official paid holiday for state employees.

During a Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing on Thursday, Jan. 12, Champion said recognizing Gwyneth is a step toward the United States recognizing its founding promises.


Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, R-Minneapolis, addresses reporters Nov. 10 after being selected by the DFL Senate caucus to be the next president of the Minnesota Senate.

Alex Derosier/Forum News Service

“Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments — they face them,” said Champion, who this year became Minnesota’s first black president to the Senate. “We become stronger as a nation and a country when we honestly confront our past grievances, including the deep suffering and injustice of slavery and generations of segregation and discrimination against Black Americans.”

Juneteenth was celebrated on June 19, 1865, the day Union forces arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared that a quarter of a million slaves in the state were free. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, but Texas was among the last Confederate territories to be controlled by Federal forces.

Texas has celebrated Greek Twelve since 1980, although in recent years the holiday has become more prominent on a national level. The federal government and several states moved to establish the holiday after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020, sparking a national reckoning about race and policing.

President Joe Biden has signed a bill to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021, the first year the holiday has been officially observed nationally in the United States.

All states and the District of Columbia celebrate or recognize Juneteenth, according to the Congressional Research Service, although less than half recognize it as a holiday. Eighteen states have designated June as a paid holiday from mid-2022.

During Thursday’s hearing on the bill, Sen. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazepa, pressed Champion on the financial impact of the holiday event. Senate financial analyst Andrew Erickson said the state has already included the leave in employee contracts, and also added that employees already get paid, so creating vacation wouldn’t incur additional cost.

In a vote Thursday, the Senate State and Local Government Committee referred the Juneteenth bill to the Education Policy Committee. Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, is the lead author of the House Juneteenth Facilities Bill.