Massachusetts Senate Passes Legislation To Create Juneteenth Holiday

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to establish Juneteenth as an official state holiday.

Juneteenth is a celebration of the day in 1865 when the remaining enslaved African Americans in the United States were told of their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.

“With the Senate actively working on legislation to address racial inequities, I am thrilled this bill takes the historic step of recognizing the importance of Juneteenth – a day celebrating the liberation of the remaining enslaved African Americans – and making it a state holiday. I would like to thank my colleagues for their collaboration and careful attention to this time-sensitive proposal,” said Senate President Karen Spilka.

Governor Charlie Baker was asked about the creation of a holiday in the Commonwealth during a press conference in June.

“We would look forward to working with the legislature to come up with an approach to this that puts a much finer emphasis and a bigger point on Juneteenth,” said the Governor in June.

Baker added his office does not usually comment on specific legislation until it gets to his desk.

On June 17, Framingham State Rep. Maria Robinson was part of a group of legislators who filed an act to create the Juneteenth holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“Seeing Juneteenth celebrations across the Commonwealth has inspired all of us to take the next step and create a state holiday to formally memorialize and remember our difficult history as a nation,” said Rep. Maria Robinson, in June.

The others were representatives Bud Willams (D-Springfield), Chynah Tyler (D-Boston), and Mindy Domb (D-Amherst), along with Senators Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain), and Jo Comerford (D-Northampton).

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, and a reminder that the project of racial justice and liberation in this country remains unfinished, with so much work left to do. Marking Juneteenth as a state holiday will honor a transformative moment in our country’s history—emancipation from slavery—while also recommitting us to ending the ongoing violence, discrimination, and injustice we continue to force Black Americans to endure,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz in June.

Forty-seven of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance.

The three states that do not recognize Juneteenth are Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

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