By Tiffany Williams –
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed into law Public Act 22-128, which establishes Juneteenth Independence Day as a new legal state holiday on June 19.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863, the news took time to make its way around the country. As such, it was not until June 19, 1865, when the Union army brought word of the proclamation to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, making them among the last to be freed.
“Juneteenth marks an important day in our nation that for far too long has gone underrecognized and has not been truly appreciated to the extent that it should be as a major part of United States history,” Governor Lamont said.
Governor Lamont added, “I particularly want to recognize the Black members of the Connecticut General Assembly for working to advance this bill through the legislature. I watched the debate in the House on the day this bill passed, and it was undoubtedly one of the most emotional discussions I have seen in either chamber in a very long time. Listening to my Black colleagues speak their truths on the floor of the House – particularly Representative Toni Walker, whose testimony that day was especially poignant and filled me with emotion – was a master class in why Juneteenth should be a legally recognized state holiday.”
The legislation was approved with the near-unanimous support of lawmakers in the General Assembly, by a vote of 148 to 1 in the House of Representatives and 35 to 1 in the Senate.
The effective date of the legislation as approved by the General Assembly is October 1, 2022, meaning that the first time Juneteenth Independence Day is legally recognized as a state holiday in Connecticut will be on June 19, 2023.