Gov. Walz signs bill establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill on Friday morning establishing Juneteenth as an official state holiday.

“Juneteenth is an important opportunity for communities across the state and nation to celebrate freedom, recognize the history and contributions of Black Americans, and recommit to building a more just and equitable society for everyone.” said Governor Walz. “Creating Juneteenth as a state holiday is a long overdue celebration of independence.”

The holiday is celebrated every year on June 19, and commemorates the day in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and read a statement proclaiming the slaves were free — nearly two years after Congress had abolished slavery.

Legislation passed by a vote of 126-1 in the Minnesota House on Thursday night. The Minnesota Senate approved the bill 57-8 last week.

With the signing of the bill, Juneteenth is the 12th state holiday. June 19 became a federal holiday in 2021, and many local governments, school districts and companies based in Minnesota already recognize the holiday.

Shortly before signing that bill, Gov. Walz ceremonially sign the CROWN Act. He officially signed the bill into law earlier this week.

The CROWN Act makes it illegal for places such as schools and workplaces to discriminate against someone based on their natural hair texture or hairstyle, such as braids, locs and twists.

The bill was approved by the Minnesota House in 2020 and 2022, but stalled in the Senate both years. This year, the House approved it a week into the session and the Senate gave it final approval last week.