Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senators for Idaho Jim Risch and Mike Crapo joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 Senators in introducing legislation, S. 4019, to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. If passed, the federal government would observe the holiday in parity with Idaho’s existing recognition of the celebration.
“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of ending slavery in the United States,” Risch and Crapo said in a joint statement. “The period of slavery in America stained our nation’s promise of liberty and justice for all. Juneteenth celebrates an end to this shameful period, recognizes the contributions of Black American culture and marks a renewed commitment to ensuring the reality of equality and opportunity for all Americans.”
Juneteenth observes the historic day of June 19, 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas that slaves were free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation over two years before had freed slaves, the news had not yet reached Texas. The following year, June 19 was celebrated as the anniversary of their emancipation. Since then, Juneteenth observances and celebrations have taken place across the country for more than 155 years. As of today, the District of Columbia and 46 states, including Idaho, have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a day of observance. In 2001, Idaho became the fifth state to do so under Governor Kempthorne. Further, Governor Little signed a proclamation on June 15, 2020, officially recognizing June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.