Minnesota Senate passes Juneteenth as a state holiday 

Still needs House passage

By: - January 26, 2023 3:51 pm

The house where Logan Stroud stood on the front porch and told more than 150 of his enslaved workers that they were free. Photo: Historic American Building Survey. via Library of Congress.

The Minnesota Senate on Thursday passed a bill to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday. 

Juneteenth, or June 19, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans. It marks the day in 1865 — two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — that a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free. Though celebrated by Black Americans for 150 years, Juneteenth only became a federal holiday in 2021 after the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests.

Past bills to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday in Minnesota failed to gain traction. Eighteen states already observe Juneteenth as a paid state holiday. 

“With a state-recognized Juneteenth holiday, we recommit ourselves to our shared work to ensure racial justice, equity and equality,” said the chief author of the bill, Sen. Bobby Champion, DFL-Minneapolis. “We commemorate the centuries of struggles led by everyday Americans who brought our nation closer to fulfilling its promise.”

The bill passed 57-8. A few Republicans said the bill moved too quickly and worried about the potential costs for school districts, courts and other public institutions. Sen. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, called the bill “lazy legislating” and said they should strike one holiday to add Juneteenth. 

A companion bill has been introduced in the House and is moving through committees. 

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Grace Deng
Grace Deng

Grace Deng was a reporting intern with the Minnesota Reformer. They studied legal studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. The Seattle native has previously been a statehouse intern with USA TODAY Network Ohio and an editorial fellow with Washingtonian Magazine.