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Juneteenth could become state holiday in Minnesota

Meredith Leigh Moore was born on July 5; one day after America annually celebrates its independence. However, she grew up in Minnesota celebrating her freedom a few weeks prior.

“I often found myself teaching my peers, my neighbors, and now my colleagues, about my history and felt confused about why they didn’t know about this important part of our nation’s journey,” said the parent and small-business owner. “… I remember Juneteenth fondly, and I celebrate it now with my boys.”

The story she shares could become more widespread.

Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), HF3910 would designate Juneteenth, June 19, as a state holiday. It marks the date in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure the last enslaved people in the United States be set free, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“It is such an important part of American history, not just African-American history,” said Lee Jordan, Midwest and state director for the national Juneteenth Observation Foundation.

The bill was held over Tuesday by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee pending a forthcoming amendment. A fiscal note shows no cost.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.

“The celebration of Juneteenth provides the space for all of us to reflect on a more inclusive freedom,” Richardson said. “The end of chattel slavery in this country is a milestone worthy of recognition, reflection, celebration and a step toward the commitment to a progress to truly living up to the promise that all are created equal. It’s a chance to acknowledge how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.”

Awaiting action by the Senate Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee is the companion, SF3789. Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Mpls) is the sponsor.

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