SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois is set to make Juneteenth a statutory holiday.
Legislation making June 19 a paid day off for all state employees and a school vacation was approved unanimously by the Illinois House last week and by the State Senate this month. latest. 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 Governor JB Pritzker signed it.
Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 when the last blacks enslaved in the United States learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The day is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day.
The sponsor of the bill, Representative La Shawn Ford, has sponsored similar legislation in the past. There was “no appetite” to spend it before, the Chicago Democrat told the Chicago Tribune. He says that changed after the murder of George Floyd, who was black, by a white policeman in Minnesota.
“Now after George Floyd is the time,” said Ford. “Some would say it’s an African American vacation, but it’s an American vacation.”
Cook County, the largest county in Illinois, recognized Juneteenth as a public holiday for workers its last year.
Ford is sponsoring another bill to make Juneteenth a public holiday, though it won’t come into effect until 2022. It has passed the House and is awaiting Senate approval. Ford has said that if this bill passes in the Senate, it would be up to Pritzker to decide which legislation to sign.
The invoices are SB1965 and HB3922.
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