Sponsored by State Representative Melvin Stukes, HB165, "An Act concerning State Government - Commemorative Days - Juneteenth National Freedom" requiring the Governor to "annually to proclaim a certain day as Juneteenth National Freedom Day" will establish Maryland as the 42nd state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance.
During the 2011 - 2012 Regular Session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly unanimously passed HR 322, "A Resolution designating the third Saturday in June as 'Juneteenth National Freedom Day' in Pennsylvania." The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Ronald G. Waters and adopted on June 12, 2011, establishing Pennsylvania as the 41 state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance.
Juneteenth, or the "19th 0f June" recognizes June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves in the last southern state in rebellion following the end of the Civil War. This occurred more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of general order by General Granger, the former slaves celebrated jubilantly, establishing America's second Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African American holiday observance.
"With so many states recognizing Juneteenth, we are optimistic that congress will finally pass legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance like Flag Day or Patriot Day,"states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder & Chairman of theNational Juneteenth Observance Foundation. "We hope that President Obama will also support our efforts by issuing a Presidential Juneteenth Proclamation and hosting a White House Juneteenth Celebration in June."
Pictured: Dr. Ronald Myers, Founder & Chairman of theNational Juneteenth Observance Foundation