Juneteenth will be an official state holiday in Oregon, the state’s legislature has decided. The decision makes it the fourth state to make the event an official celebration.
Introduced by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown earlier this year, House Bill 2168 unanimously passed in the Senate on June 1, according to USA Today.
“With House Bill 2168, we can learn from another time. We can change the future now, in real time. We can work towards equality – even without a declaration or official holiday, said a June 1 statement released by Oregon Senate Democrats. “We must. Celebrating Juneteenth will help each of us remember all that we can and must do to ensure a more just future.”
Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the days following the end of the Civil War beginning June 19, 1865 in which Union Army Major General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas informing enslaved Black people that the war was over and that they had been free for more than two years.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, effective Jan 1, 1863, but an absence of Union soldiers in the areas surrounding Galveston prevented the news from getting to those still working the plantations..
Only one state, South Dakota, has not declared Juneteenth a holiday. Hawaii just declared Juneteenth a holiday this week.
Oregon will begin recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday in 2022.