Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation that officially declares June 19th a statewide holiday each year. The holiday will be observed as “Juneteenth Independence Day.”
Baker said the new order in Massachusetts is an action to “recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.”
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is a portmanteau word for June and nineteenth and commemorates the June 19th 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas and the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South.
With the exception of Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota, all other U.S. states acknowledge June 19 as an annual ceremonious holiday or a state holiday. This year, North Dakota and South Dakota signed proclamations to mark the date as “Juneteenth Celebration Day” and “Juneteenth Day” respectively in each state for this year only.
Until this year, Texas was the only state to observe Juneteenth as a paid state holiday, which it has done since 1980.