Illinois Legislature approves Juneteenth as a state holiday

Illinois

Thousands gather to watch fireworks during the Chicago Peace March on June 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general read orders in Galveston, Texas stating all enslaved people in Texas were free according to federal law. (Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois is closer to making Juneteenth a state holiday.

Legislation making June 19 a paid day off for all state employees and a school holiday was unanimously approved by the Illinois House last week and by the state Senate last month.

It states that if June 19 falls on a Saturday or Sunday the holiday will be observed the following Monday.

The measure would take effect immediately if Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs it.

Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 when the last enslaved Black people in the U.S. learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

The day is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day.

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