Gov. Kristi Noem announced Thursday that Friday, June 18, will be a holiday for state workers in honor of Juneteenth.
This is in response to the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” which was signed today by President Joe Biden and established Juneteenth as a federal holiday, she said Thursday in a news release.
“‘All men are created equal.’ That is America’s foundational ideal,” Noem continued. “Juneteenth celebrates an important day when we came closer to making that ideal a reality for all Americans, regardless of race. I hope state employees take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful South Dakota weather on their day off.”
Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19. It commemorates the anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger announced freedom from slavery in Galveston, Texas, long after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Noem had previously proclaimed “Juneteenth Day” in South Dakota, the only state to not officially recognize it as a holiday.
Two bills in the South Dakota Legislature this year proposed a state holiday for Juneteenth but both were rejected. Senate Bill 71, backed by Republicans, would have made Juneteenth a working holiday, but it failed on the House floor. Senate Bill 89, backed by Democrats, would have created a state holiday for Juneteenth, but died in the Senate State Affairs committee.