juneteenth 042221SPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) continued her work to keep Black history alive in Illinois by creating a state holiday for Juneteenth National Freedom Day on June 19, as her legislation establishing the holiday passed the Senate Thursday.

“Juneteenth should be a state holiday – it’s the oldest national celebration of the freedom of all slaves in this country,” Lightford said. “It should be celebrated by all Illinois residents in order to highlight how far our society has come.”

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which established that all enslaved people in Confederate states were forever free. In 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed, leading to the name Juneteenth. 

Senate Bill 1965 creates a state holiday for Juneteenth National Freedom Day on June 19, which would be a paid day off holiday for all state employees and a school holiday. 

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States. Today, Juneteenth has grown from the celebration of the abolition of slavery into a celebration of Black arts, culture, and the impacts of the civil rights movement throughout the country.

“Juneteenth is a part of our journey and should be taught in the classroom,” Lightford said. “Our history should be as widely celebrated as any other memorable moment in our nation’s past. Our story will continue to be told, and that starts with ensuring Juneteenth is made a state holiday.” 

On Thursday, Senate Bill 1965 was approved by the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.