Governor Whitmer Declares June 19th as Juneteenth Celebration Day in Michigan
MICHIGAN - Yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed that June 19th will now be celebrated as Juneteenth Celebration Day across Michigan. This holiday commemorates the day slavery was abolished across the United States in 1865.
The recent national outcry in response to police brutality, misconduct, and systematic racism has reenergized the call to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
According to the Congressional Research Service, Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Since then, 48 states have officially recognized the holiday. Michigan first recognized Juneteenth in 2005.
Lt. Governor Gralin Gilchrist II spoke about how important this holiday is in making progress towards a better Michigan.
“We have seen Michiganders across the state continue to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others,” said Gilchrist. “This day, which marks when the final group of Black Americans understood that they were free, is an important reminder of the work that must continue to be done to deliver equity and opportunity to every community. I am committed to working every day to build a state that is representative and responsive to the people we serve.”
Juneteenth started when Union General Gordan Granger read General Order #3 in Galveston on June 19, 1865. This order stated that all slaves are free, and that former slaves and slave owners would now be equal in personal and property rights. June 19th acted as the day of emancipation. It has also become a long-standing celebration that honors African American resilience as well as the end of slavery.
Governor Whitmer mention how proud she is to establish this new state holiday during these times.
“Juneteenth is a crucial day in our nation’s history to remember how far we have come and recognize how far we still have to go,” said Whitmer. “During a time when communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and when the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shone a light on the systemic racism Black Americans face every day, we must work together to build a more equitable and just Michigan. I’m proud to declare June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Celebration Day and will continue to work tirelessly to create a state that is equal for all.”
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin announced that her congressional office will be closed in annual observance of Juneteenth. All of her staff will be given the day off with the exception of those who are committed to meetings and engagements that were previously scheduled. Those employees that have to work on the holiday will be given alternate time off.
"It is important to me, especially after the death of George Floyd and the outpouring of calls for change across the 8th District, to meaningfully recognize the significance of this day to Black Americans and to everyone who cares about equality and justice,” Slotkin said. “One way we can do that is to provide staff a day off each year to honor the holiday, without interrupting service to constituents, and to support efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday."
Slotkin has also provided a proclamation to the City of Lansing honoring the Juneteenth celebrations and supporting activities the promote unity, equality and education.