Oregon Lawmakers Unanimously Vote to Recognize Juneteenth as an Official Holiday

Oregon lawmakers voted unanimously Tuesday to recognize Juneteenth, a day recognizing the Emancipation Proclamation, as a state holiday every June 19, starting in 2022.

The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were told President Abraham Lincoln had freed people held in bondage in rebel states two years earlier. The passage of the bill, introduced by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown earlier this year, falls on the same day as the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when hundreds of Black residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma were attacked or killed by a white mob.

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“With House Bill 2168, we can learn from another time,” said Sen. Lew Frederick in a statement released by Oregon Senate Democrats. “We can change the future now, in real time. We can work towards equality – even without a declaration or official holiday. We must. Celebrating Juneteenth will help each of us remember all that we can and must do to ensure a more just future.”

After House Bill 2168 passed the Senate Tuesday, the bill went back to the House for consideration of Senate amendments. Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign it into law.

“I know this is a small, yet important step. I encourage all Oregonians to join me in observing Juneteenth by getting educated on systemic racism in this country and getting involved in the fight for racial justice,” Brown said in a news release last year about the introduction of the bill to make the day a holiday.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Chelsey Cox

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