WASHINGTON D.C. (KIFI/KIDK)-Idaho republican Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have joined a bipartisan coalition of Senators proposing to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
If approved, Senate Bill 4019 would observe the holiday in parity with Idaho’s existing recognition of the day.
In a joint statement, Crapo and Risch said Juneteenth (June 19) is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of ending slavery in the United States.
“The period of slavery in America stained our nation’s promise of liberty and justice for all,” said the Senators.”Juneteenth celebrates an end to this shameful period, recognizes the contributions of Black American culture and marks a renewed commitment to ensuring the reality of equality and opportunity for all Americans.”
The date commemorates the day, in 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas that slaves were free. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued two years earlier, but didn’t reach Texas slaves until 1865.
Since then, the day was celebrated across the country for more than 155 years.
46 states, including Idaho, and the District of Columbia recognize the day through either a state holiday or day of observance.
Idaho became the fifth state to observe the day in 2001. This year, Governor Brad Little signed a proclamation recognizing June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day.”