Support grows in General Assembly for Juneteenth holiday

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)Senate President Robert Stivers, Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, and Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey announced Friday their support for a bill that would designate June 19, also known as Juneteenth, as a state holiday.

The bill would be introduced during the 2021 Regular Session of the General Assembly.

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Juneteenth is celebrated annually to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas finally received word of their freedom, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“As the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln, it is only right that Kentucky recognizes the day that his Emancipation Proclamation reached the final corner of the former Confederate States and freed the last of the southern slaves,” said  Stivers.

“I am so glad to see the Kentucky General Assembly come together to officially recognize Juneteeth as a state holiday and hope this is the first of many changes we make to battle systemic inequity,” said McGarvey.

“Juneteenth underscores the continuing struggle to eliminate racial injustices in our society,” said Neal. “The Kentucky Senate is obligated to adopt policies to eradicate these disparities.”

“It is only appropriate that an Emancipation Day holiday be established in Kentucky honoring the freedom of all Black Americans and the end of the existence of slavery in this country,” said Thomas.

Meanwhile, House Majority and Minority leadership issued the following joint statement commemorating Juneteenth:

“Juneteenth is an important reminder of not only the grave injustice of slavery, but also of the ability of right to triumph over wrong. With just four words, ‘All slaves are free,’ the United States of America provided confirmation that it would stand behind the word of President Abraham Lincoln and uphold the great ideal of our founders that ‘All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ We thank Rep. Reginald Meeks for his longstanding commitment to ensuring this day is not forgotten, as well as members of both parties in the House and Senate who either have or will be pre-filing legislation to ensure this day is commemorated. ”