Washington Legislature approves Juneteenth as state holiday

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JUNE 19: A woman on a roof holds a Black Lives Matter sign during the Freedom March & Celebration organized by King County Equity Now in Seattle, Washington on June 19, 2020. The US on Friday marked Juneteenth, the annual co

The Washington state Legislature has passed a measure that makes Juneteenth a legal state holiday.

The measure making June 19 a state paid holiday passed the Democratic-led Senate on a bipartisan 47-1 vote and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. The House passed the measure in February on an 89 -9 vote.

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Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day — commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free in 1865 in Galveston, Texas, where Union soldiers brought them the news two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

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In 2007, the Legislature designated Juneteenth as a day of remembrance. South Dakota and Hawaii are the only other states that don’t have some sort of official observance of Juneteenth.