Oregon Votes to Recognize Juneteenth as Official State Holiday

On Tuesday, a group of Oregon lawmakers unanimously voted to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday starting in 2022.

Oregon joined with other states across the country that have passed legislation honoring June 19 as a day recognizing the Emancipation Proclamation, USA Today reported. The bill was first introduced by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown earlier this year and was passed on the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The holiday was introduced in Oregon back in 1945 when Clara Peoples (dubbed Portland’s “Mother of Juneteenth”) led a celebration during her work break at the Vanport shipyards, KDRV reported.

“We remember the legacy of Clara Peoples, ‘Mother of Juneteenth,’ and the annual celebrations that kept this tradition alive long before this holiday was officially recognized,” Rep. Janelle Bynum (D- Clackamas), Chair of the BIPOC Caucus said after Oregon’s House of Representatives voted to pass the bill in April.

After House Bill 2168 passed the Senate Tuesday, it was sent back to the House for consideration of Senate amendments. Gov. Brown is expected to sign it into law.

“With House Bill 2168, we can learn from another time,” said Sen. Lew Frederick, said in a statement. “We can change the future now, in real time. We can work towards equality–even without a declaration or official holiday. We must. Celebrating Juneteenth will help each of us remember all that we can and must do to ensure a more just future.”

Juneteenth is slowly making its way to becoming a national holiday. States across the country all honor the day except for Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota, according to the Congressional Research Service. The holiday started in Galveston, TX, where emancipated slaves were informed on June 19, 1865, that President Abraham Lincoln had freed people held in bondage in rebel states two years earlier.

The state of Texas was the first to officially recognize Juneteenth, in 1980 with Florida following in 1991, Oklahoma in 1994 and Minnesota in 1996. By the year 2000, Delaware joined.

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