By Stacy M. Brown
Originally appeared in NNPA
Nevada has officially declared Juneteenth a state holiday, joining a growing list of states commemorating the last enslaved individuals in the United States learned of their freedom.
The state’s Republican Governor, Joe Lombardo, signed the bill into law on Thursday, elevating June 19 from a day of observance to a full-fledged state holiday.
The legislation means that many state employees can now take the day off to celebrate the holiday.
Juneteenth now stands alongside other recognized holidays in Nevada, such as New Year’s Day, Veterans Day, July 4, Labor Day, Nevada Day, and Christmas.
The bill received overwhelming support in the state Assembly and Senate, with votes of 40 to 1 and 19 to 2, respectively.
Democratic Assemblywoman Claire Thomas, one of the bill’s sponsors, highlighted Nevada’s historic commitment to civil rights as the first state to ratify the 15th Amendment, granting African Americans the right to vote.
“By designating Juneteenth as a state holiday, Nevada continues to honor that legacy and celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight for equality,” she expressed.
The significance of Juneteenth lies in its origin, which dates to 1865 when news of the abolition of slavery finally reached Galveston, Texas.
The momentous announcement came two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery in the United States and five months after the 13th Amendment was signed, legally declaring all enslaved people free.
Initially observed in Texas, the Juneteenth celebration spread as Black Texans migrated to other parts of the country.
In recent years, numerous companies have also recognized the importance of this day by granting their employees time off to commemorate it.
The federal recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday came in 2021 when President Joe Biden signed a bill that Congress had passed.
Biden’s action solidified Juneteenth’s status as a pivotal moment in American history, and its significance continues to grow as more states follow suit in honoring this important day.
With Nevada officially recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, it stands as a testament to the state’s commitment to equality and commemorating the progress made in the ongoing fight for civil rights.