vanpelt 062321Last week, Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation to declare June 19 a state holiday to recognize Juneteenth National Freedom Day. On June 19, 1865, two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of slavery and ensure that all enslaved people were freed – effectively ending slavery in the United States.

Many members of the Illinois Senate Black Caucus participated in celebratory events in around the districts they represent to commemorate the significance of the holiday.

johnson2 062321State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove) attended the “Juneteenth Journey” celebration in Waukegan on Saturday, sponsored by the Waukegan Park District.

Johnson said: “Saturday’s outstanding Juneteenth Journey event in Waukegan was an educational and joyous celebration of American history in our very own community. To see so many young people experience Juneteenth for the first time—and now as a state and federal holiday!—gave me hope for a more just and equitable future where all our stories are heard.”

In Chicago, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) narrated the story of Harriet Tubman, dressed in attire reminiscent of the 1800s.  

 “Our Juneteenth celebration was vibrant, and full of life,” Van Pelt said. “There was dancing and storytelling, which was a great way to honor those who came before us, and who suffered so that we may be free.”

Turner Decatur 062321Central Illinois’ State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) attended two celebrations— one in Springfield and one in Decatur.

State Senator Doris Turner wrote: “For as long as I can remember, I have celebrated Juneteenth. My mother and father were both from Texas where Juneteenth originated. It gives me great pride and joy to think how far my ancestry has come. I would give anything for my ancestors to see me here today as the first Black legislator serving my district, co-sponsoring a bill to commemorate Juneteenth statewide.”

At the Springfield event, local leaders gathered at the State Capitol for a Juneteenth March to Freedom. After the event, Senator Turner joined Decatur leaders and residents for another march/parade to continue the celebration of African American History.

To honor the fight for freedom and reflect on the Black community’s progress, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) also attended the Juneteenth-Metro East Freedom in Equity Festival last Saturday.

belt 062321“Let it fuel our energy to continue to strive for more justice and equity for Black Americans, because there is much more work that we can do,” Belt said.

The legislation signed by Gov. Pritzker, House Bill 3922, to create Juneteenth National Freedom Day on June 19, was signed into law Wednesday, June 16 and will become effective Jan. 1, 2022.