Image: Pat Arnow

Governor Will Advance Legislation to Make Juneteenth an Official State Holiday Next Year

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday issued an Executive Order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees, in recognition of the official emancipation of African Americans throughout the United States. The Governor will also advance legislation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday next year.
“Friday is Juneteenth – a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States – and it’s a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history,” Governor Cuomo said. “Although slavery ended over 150 years ago, there has still been rampant, systemic discrimination and injustice in this state and this nation, and we have been working to enact real reforms to address these inequalities. I am going to issue an Executive Order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees and I’ll propose legislation next year to make it an official state holiday so New Yorkers can use this day to reflect on all the changes we still need to make to create a more fair, just and equal society.”

Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman said, “..When peace come they read the Emancipation law to the slaves people, they spent that night singin and shoutin. They wasn’t slaves no more.” – Former Slave Pierce Harper, 1937 WPA Slave Narratives of Texas, speaking about hearing he was free two and half years after his given freedom in Texas, NY. Black Emancipation Day, June 19th, 1865 also known as Juneteenth is pivotal in the joy, congregation, and spiritual well beingof black people in America. I am pleased that the work I have done to solidify Juneteenth as a holiday in the State of New York is coming to fruition. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Governor to ensure black history and liberation stays at the forefront of progress.”

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the news of liberation came to Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. African Americans across the state were made aware of their right to freedom on this day when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with federal troops to read General Order No. 3 announcing the end of the Civil War and that all enslaved were now free, as well as to maintain a presence in Texas for the purpose of enforcement of emancipation among slave-owners throughout the state.

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