LANSING, Mich. (February 1, 2023) — Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) re-introduced legislation today that would establish “Juneteenth,” or June 19, as a state-recognized holiday.
The oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S., Juneteenth is often attributed to the ratification of the 13th Amendment. However, this information is historically inaccurate, as Juneteenth is a celebration of when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on Jan. 1, 1863.
“Although freedom under the law was finally guaranteed, the truth is that Black and Brown people have faced the brunt of the U.S. government to this day. Along with celebrating the end of this dark chapter in American history, we must also face the hard truth that the hard-fought battle for justice is not over,” said Sen. Santana. “The events of the past couple weeks have brought to bear the wounds of our past once more, reminding us that the work is not done in this country. With this bill, I urge our great state to set an example of what it looks like to recognize the ending of slavery while also striving to take the lead on guaranteeing equal rights for every American.”
Establishing Juneteenth as an official state holiday supports an ongoing effort to expand racial justice and equity in Michigan and further promotes the commemoration of when all slaves heard the news that they were emancipated from slavery.