Maria Cramer at NYT:
Last June, President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, proclaiming it as a day for all Americans to commemorate the end of slavery.
One year later, only 18 states have passed legislation that would provide funding to let state employees observe the day as a paid state holiday, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Opponents of bills that would create funding for the permanent holiday have complained of the costs associated with giving workers another paid day off. Some have said that not enough people know about the holiday to make the effort worthwhile.
For supporters, such arguments are painful to hear, especially as more Americans said they were familiar with Juneteenth. In June 2022, nearly 60 percent of Americans said they knew about the holiday, compared with 37 percent in May 2021, according to a Gallup poll.
“This is something that Black folk deserve and it was like we had to almost prove ourselves to get them to agree,” said Anthony Nolan, a state representative in Connecticut, where legislators argued for hours earlier this year before passing legislation to fund the holiday.
Juneteenth commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom after the Civil War had ended.
The day has been commemorated by Black Americans since the late 1800s. Though all 50 states have recognized Juneteenth by enacting some kind of proclamation celebrating it, its full adoption as an American holiday has yet to take root.
The Juneteenth commemoration marks the legal end of slavery in the United States, a hard-fought achievement of the Civil War. General Granger’s announcement in 1865 put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln, on Jan. 1, 1863.