Senate DFLers today successfully secured a change in Senate rules that will allow Senate employees – for the first time ever – to recognize and observe the importance of the Juneteenth holiday, which since June 19, 1865 – has commemorated the end of the brutal enslavement of African Americans in the United States.
At a meeting of the Senate Rules Committee Thursday, Senator Nick Frentz (DFL-North Mankato) backed by other DFL members of the committee, Senators John Marty (DFL-Roseville), Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), and Melisa LópezFranzen (DFL-Edina) pushed for the change, saying their efforts are a continuation of their push to make Juneteenth an official state holiday. The federal government made it an official federal holiday in 2021. The bipartisan committee agreement will give State Senate employees a paid day off on Monday, June 20, since the actual Juneteenth holiday falls on a Sunday this year.
Effort is Part of DFL Push to Make Juneteenth a State Holiday
In March, Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) introduced legislation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.
“I’m very pleased that the Rules Committee advanced this proposal at today’s hearing,” said Sen. Champion. “The recognition of Juneteenth as a Senate holiday represents an important step toward commemorating – each year – the day on which the last enslaved African Americans were freed. We still have a lot of work to ensure opportunities for all Minnesotans, and I will continue to push the Legislature to give this holiday the recognition it deserves by making it a state holiday.”
“I was proud to be able to make the case for recognition of Juneteenth by asking my senate colleagues on the Rules Committee that it be made a paid holiday for our staff,” said Sen. Frentz, an Assistant DFL Leader. “To see it pass today was truly one of the highlights of my service in the Senate. I want to thank everybody who worked on getting Juneteenth recognized, especially Senator Bobby Joe Champion.”
“I am pleased that we were able to secure this recognition of Juneteenth in the Senate,” said Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen. “DFLers are going to continue our push to make this a state holiday to ensure we continue to recognize the centuries of African American perseverance and their history of overcoming unimaginable hardship to not only achieve the same rights as other Americans, but also to become an important part of the history, culture and fabric of Minnesota and the United States.”
“Juneteenth is truly ‘Independence Day’ for Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved, tortured, and denied all freedoms.” said Sen. Marty. “It is long overdue that we recognize this shameful chapter in our history and treat Juneteenth as a liberation day.”
“Im glad that Democrats and Republicans could work together to observe such an important day in our nation’s history,” said Sen. Rest.
Earlier this year, the House passed a measure to recognize Juneteenth, and Governor Tim Walz on Thursday urged State employees to observe and recognize the holiday.
Hard-Fought Juneteenth Freedoms Commemorated Since 1865
On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to thousands of enslaved African Americans. On that date, the last enslaved people were notified of their freedoms more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.