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Colorado lawmakers pass bill making Juneteenth state holiday

April 11, 2022 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill designating Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S., as an official state holiday, and Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign it.

The House on Monday overwhelming passed legislation recognizing the June 19 paid holiday, Colorado Politics reports. It easily passed the Senate in March.

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers told enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. It was two months after the Confederacy surrendered and more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

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The federal government made it an official holiday last year.

Nearly all states recognize Juneteenth in some fashion, and at least nine states have designated it in law as an official paid state holiday.

“We have to reckon with our very tough past of slavery and what this country was built upon. But we also have to honor the freedoms that have come and the liberation that is here,” said Democratic Rep. Leslie Herod, a bill sponsor.

Juneteenth would be Colorado’s 11th state holiday, with most schools and state offices closed.